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Mbalula’s proposal could curb violent truck attacks, but beware of loopholes, lobby group warns

The PrDP is a professional driving permit needed to drive public transport and heavy-duty vehicles.

The PrDP is a professional driving permit needed to drive public transport and heavy-duty vehicles.

  • In April Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula gazetted a proposed amendment to the National Road Traffic Regulations.
  • It proposes a tightening of requirements for holding a professional driving permit – needed for heavy-duty vehicles – for South African-registered vehicles being driven in the country.
  • The Road Freight Association believes the amendment could help curb violent attacks in SA’s road freight industry.

The Road Freight Association (RFA) has thrown its weight behind a proposed tightening of requirements for professional driving permits, saying it will help reduce the risk of violent attacks against truck drivers.

The RFA is the representative employer association in the road freight and logistics sector.

The professional driving permit (PrDP) is required to drive public transport and heavy-duty vehicles.

In practice, the proposal would mean a permit could only be obtained by those with a valid South African driver’s licence, which in turn could only be obtained if you are a South African citizen or applied for permanent residence or hold an asylum visa.

This would effectively mean foreign truck drivers would be unable to work in South Africa. A foreign driver driving a foreign-registered vehicle would not be affected, however. This would make it possible for trucks carrying imports and exports to do so legally.

Attacks on foreigners

A government task team was formed in mid-2019 to make proposals after a spate of attacks on foreign truck drivers, including several in KwaZulu-Natal. The attacks made headlines, with one incident involving the petrol-bombing of two trucks.

It was alleged at the time that local truck drivers were carrying out the attacks over competition for jobs in the industry. Local truck driver organisations denied the allegations.

On 23 April this year, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula published a proposed amendment to the National Road Traffic Regulations in the Government Gazette, for comment within 30 days.

The proposed amendment relates to the authority of a PrDP issued in a foreign country, and says PrDPs issued abroad will apply to vehicles registered in that country, not vehicles registered in South Africa.

Gavin Kelly, CEO of the RFA, believes employment conditions of local truck drivers have contributed to tensions in the transport sector. This included a perception that South Africans’ jobs could be threatened by illegal employment of foreigners, Kelly said.

“We support the endeavours of the minister to ensure loopholes used to illegally employ foreigners are closed,” said Kelly.

“Loopholes currently exist, including corruption in the issuing of work permits and the lack of inspections. The legislation will not create ‘new loopholes’. We would just like to see the current weaknesses corrected.”

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