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Govt promises to expedite driver-related policy changes in road freight

Government has committed to speeding up policy changes in the road-freight sector following recent protests by truck drivers against foreign nationals filling job opportunities they believe should go to local drivers, as well as what they view as the lack of regulation in the road-freight industry.

A subsequent meeting between the aggrieved drivers, as well as the ministers of Employment and Labour, and Home Affairs, the Deputy Minister of Police, officials of the Department of Transport (DoT), and other affected departments, has now seen government commit to “speedily address” some of the issues that had been raised.

These include the employment of foreign nationals, especially undocumented foreign nationals, as well as those who arrive in the country as visitors, but end up securing employment in the sector, which is illegal.

“There are [departments of] Home Affairs and Employment and Labour policy initiatives to address migration and related policy initiatives,” said Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.

“I would like to appeal to those who feel aggrieved to desist from intimidation, road disruptions, and the undermining of existing laws and structures.

“We made a promise to meet the industry and we are committed to ensure that a workable solution is found through legislation and other means. We also encourage that existing forums at national and provincial level take the opportunity to find solutions.”

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi added that the new Border Management Authority (BMA) is being set up, and that it will soon be engaging the trucking sector.

Home Affairs is to ensure that border management is strengthened “to weed out undocumented drivers”.

“In the next few weeks, there will be far-reaching leadership and policy interventions by the BMA, as well as a number of initiatives that we have been involved in to resolve issues around this matter. South Africans should expect a big difference going forward,” said Motsoaledi.

The DoT’s role in the process is to address issues concerning cross-border transport relations; the validity of foreign-issued driver’s licences; fake licences; prosecution of noncomplying employers; and potential discrimination against local drivers by the industry.

Joint inspections to address noncompliance in the freight sector are also set to intensify, with law enforcement, including immigration inspectors and the South African Police Service, to play a “much more active role”.

The government delegation also committed to scan all migration and transport legislation impacting negatively on local drivers.

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