South African small truck operators Friday blocked the N3 highway near Van Reenen after the government had failed to provide feedback on November 3 on the fate of foreign drivers.
The protest is said to have followed a memorandum of demands handed to transport and labour ministers Fikile Mbalula and Thulas Nxesi on October 25 during a protest on the N9 and N10 highways in the Eastern Cape.
The ministers accepted the memorandum, calling for intervention into the four-year-long debate about the employment of foreign nationals in the logistics industry and its effect on job opportunities for South Africans.
The government promised that a technical team would report back to the drivers and small truck operators, which sources claimed did not happen.
National Truck Drivers Association secretary-general Siphosihle Muthwa alleged the government had failed to respond to the drivers within seven days, as initially agreed upon. Muthwa said:
Government promised the drivers that within seven days they would provide them with feedback into the process of addressing concerns around the employment of foreign nationals, among other issues. Government never came back to them. That is why we are seeing what is happening on the N3.
Muthwa said one of the demands in the memorandum was for the government to remove the operating licences of employers hiring foreign nationals. He added:
That will stop all the things that are happening, but government do not want to give the memorandum to employers. That is why drivers are angry.
At 9 am, the N3 Toll Concession said all lanes remained closed at Van Reenen, resulting in a standstill northbound from Tugela toll plaza and southbound from Van Reenen.
Police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker said it was alleged truck drivers parked their vehicles on the N3 and removed the keys.
He said the police were at the scene and attempts were underway to have the trucks removed.
All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied SA (ATDFASA) secretary-general Sifiso Nyathi disputed their involvement in the protests.