In one of the most heartfelt appeals for stepped-up security on South African roads following last night’s arson attacks on transporters (see lead post for today), cross-border logistics executive Mike Fitzmaurice pleaded for immediate intervention from government.
“The transport industry is the backbone of any economy in the world, and it is slowly being destroyed in South Africa,” the chief executive of the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta) said.
With reference to vigilantes who believe setting trucks on fire is the only way they can get their message across of demanding job protectionism for drivers in the road freight industry, Fitzmaurice said it spelt doom for the country’s economy if they were allowed to carry on terrorising transporters.
“If they destroy trucks they are going to destroy the economy, which is already on a knife edge because of the pandemic.”
He also lamented the fact that there were transporters who paid around R500 000 annually on toll fees using the N3 from the Port of Durban north towards the N1 into Zimbabwe.
This route, he said, also known as the North-South Corridor (NSC) linking the Copperbelt in the DRC and Zambia with Durban, was under risk of losing volume to competing SADC corridors towards ports like Beira (Mozambique) and Walvis Bay (Namibia).
“You would imagine that with the kind of money transporters spend on using highways like the N3, the SA National Roads Agency could provide better security for trucks on this road.”
He reiterated that Fesarta’s data for cargo on the NSC in South Africa reflected an increase in volume going to other ports.
“People are not going to invest in this country if they see what’s happening on our highways. It means more and more imports and exports making their way to neighbouring countries are going to be shipped through ports like Beira and Walvis.”