Nxesi in agreement with ATDF-ASA that truck driving is not a scarce skill in SA

The minister for employment and labour, Thulas Nxesi has admitted that there is no shortage of skilled truck drivers in South Africa in agreement with what ATDF-ASA has always been saying.

Nxesi revealed his findings on Monday while giving an update on issues in the trucking industry that have seen local truck drivers block roads recently.

He said this finding was made after inspections by the departments of employment and labour and home affairs.

“The department of home affairs reported they had conducted more than 21 joint multidisciplinary law enforcement operations and inspections to assess the extent of use of foreign and at times illegal truck drivers,” he said.

Nxesi said the multidisciplinary and joint enforcement operations conducted across the country saw 213 arrests of foreign truck drivers found to be in contravention of immigration laws, with 19 of those in possession of fraudulent documentation.

On Monday the ministerial task team appointed by president Cyril Ramaphosa to address complaints by local truck drivers provided an update on its engagements with stakeholders.

Presenting the report, Nxesi said while some operators have asserted that SA lacked skilled truck drivers, the inspections and law enforcement operations have found that there were enough skilled truck drivers in SA and therefore truck driving could not be classified as a scarce skill as purported by the operators.

He said the protests which have taken place in the form of blocking national roads have compromised the country’s economic activities and left the affected parts without access to services.

To deal with the grievances of the truck drivers, Nxesi said the committee has come up with a plan to address the concerns of drivers.

Read also: Government almost reaching an agreement with truck drivers and stakeholders – Mbalula

On Sunday and Monday morning, the interministerial committee met with concerned parties in the industry to come up with a solution to the grievances raised.

Nxesi said they have come up with an action plan, which comes from a culmination of a series of meetings held with the industry and will form part of a blueprint to be announced once approved by all parties.

The implementation plan consists of the following actions:

  • facilitating the appointment of the task team;
  • enforcing visa requirements;
  • consideration all foreign driving licences;
  • registration and compliance with labour laws;
  • registration of operators in terms of section 45 of the National Road Traffic Act;
  • reviewing the traffic register number;
  • reviewing cross-border road transport legislation;
  • amending the national road traffic regulations;
  • integrated joint multidisciplinary law enforcement operations;
  • implementing a driver training programme;
  • and
    consideration of the introduction of operating licences for the industry.

Nxesi said the parties at the meeting agreed unanimously with the elements of the implementation plan except for the Road Freight Association’s (RFA) misgivings regarding the introduction of operating licences.

Gavin Kelly, CEO of the RFA, reiterated its stance on that issue and told the briefing they did not support that resolution, as he said the organisation believed it was a move by a “clever someone” trying to capture the industry.

“We will not accept that,” he said.

Kelly emphasised the need for government to ensure that there is compliance with labour and transport laws in the trucking industry.

Each organisation participating in the process of implementing the plan will be represented by two delegates and monthly report meetings will be held by the committee to review the progress of actions being implemented.