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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Trucking companies in limbo as ban on transportation of alcohol is not lifted

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While restrictions on the sale of liquor were lifted on Tuesday under level 2 regulations, transportation of the commodity remains illegal according to the amendments announced by Minister of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

This leaves trucking companies, a vital piece of the logistics sector, in the dark as the newly gazetted regulations do not state if the ban on transportation of alcohol has been lifted.

Alert level 3 regulations explicitly made the sale and transportation of alcohol and illegal, as such it was expected that when the ban eventually gets lifted, the sale and transportation would also be allowed.

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However, on studying the Regulations, section (61) on the ‘sale, dispensing or transportation of liquor’, there is absolutely no mention anywhere in the Gazette on the lifting of the transportation of liquor.

Nor is there, by the way, anything about the lifting of the ban on cigarettes or on the transportation of tobacco products.

61. Sale, dispensing or transportation of liquor

(1) The sale of liquor –

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(a) by a licensed premises for off -consumption is permitted from 09h00 to 17h00, from Mondays to Thursdays, excluding Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays;

(b) by a licensed premises for on-site consumption is permitted, subject to
strict adherence to the curfew contemplated in regulation 50(1).

(2) The sale of liquor in contravention with sub-regulation (1) is an offence.

Trucking companies, responsible for the distribution of alcohol and tobacco products, abiding by the law, would not transport the commodities.

Read also: These restrictions remain in place under Level 2 lockdown

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The omission of such important information, by mistake or intentional, brings unnecessary confusion to the trucking companies responsible for the transportation of liquor and cigarettes.

So how are the cigarettes going to get from the warehouses to thousands of retail outlets around the country? And how is the booze going to get to the outlets? FleetWatch’s Patrick O’Leary asked bemoaning the government’s oversight on the role of the trucking sector in the supply chain and the economy as a whole.

“For transporters, level 3 regulations are still valid and some will be reluctant to transport cigarettes and other tobacco products – and booze – for fear of falling foul of the rules and being fined,” he added.

In the past lockdown phases, anything related to transport has been gazetted by the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, usually last in the line of Ministerial sector notifications after Minister Zuma has given the main thrust.

This could mean that although the cigarette ban was lifted at midnight last night, the cigarettes may not make it to the shelves today which will, of course, be a huge disappointment to the millions of smokers in the country.

So will the ‘legal’ cigarettes be transported by ‘legal’ transporters without the gazetted regulations being in place to back them? Not likely if they want to operate legally.

The CEO of the RFA, Gavin Kelly, told FleetWatch last night that they have advised their members not to until there is a gazette. And the gazette will only come when Minister Mbalula speaks – which could be days from today.

This proves, once again, that the Government needs to pay more attention to the role of the trucking sector in the economy and supply chain.

The cartons are in the warehouses; the empty shelves are waiting to be filled; the trucks take the cartons from the warehouses to the shelves and no thought has been given to this. If the transporters decide to strictly follow the rules, the cigarette shelves will stay empty – and could stay that way for days.

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