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Cargo theft on the increase

Cargo theft continues to be a major threat for fleet operators in South Africa. There was a decrease earlier in the year, but it now seems to be “business as usual” for hijackers and thieves.

South Africa suffers the most cargo theft in the Middle East and Africa, 54% according to a report by BSI and the TT Club. Next worst is Kenya with 14%, followed by Egypt (6%).

The major commodities stolen in the region were electronics (27%), followed by food and beverage (26%), metal (8%) and fuel (6%).
Cargo theft from trucks, at 62%, was by far the most common, followed by theft from warehouses and other facilities (33%).

Hijacking was involved in 33% of thefts, with most robberies (47%) taking place while the goods were in transit.

Although telematics and alarm systems are improving the situation for certain operators, reports highlight the lack of secure parking places in the region, as well as incidents occurring where thieves impersonate law enforcers, stopping trucks and then stealing goods, while corrupt officers are also known to demand bribes at checkpoints.

Another aspect regarding the security of cargo in South Africa relates to violence directed at foreign truck drivers as well as cargo trucks having to pass through areas of civil unrest.

Rising tensions due to foreign truck drivers

During July, tensions within the trucking industry have again flared up as there were calls for protests across the country, with several roads being barricaded and trucks burnt or hijacked.

The industry has been marred by violence and vandalism as organisations, said to be representing the interests of South African truck drivers, demand that the government act against the employment of foreigners.

Lost control 

In a radio interview, Patrick O’Leary, editor of FleetWatch, said key issues of the ongoing violence against foreign truck drivers stem from the fact that the government has not addressed grievances of local drivers.

“Siyabonga Dlamini, chairman of the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), feels that they have lost control of their members since there has not been any feedback from government on the issue of the employment of foreign drivers since 2018”.

Claims that foreign drivers work for lower wages

Local truck drivers claim South African companies choose to employ foreign nationals for lower wages. They believe that foreign drivers make up about 90% of the workforce.

Michael Masimini, spokesperson for the ATDF, says employers are contravening the Employment Services and Immigrant Act while thousands of South Africans are out of work.
According to O’Leary, the Road Freight Association says foreign drivers only make up 10% of the workforce.

Claims that local drivers are exploited

Many foreign truck drivers have lost their jobs, despite having valid work permits, or have been unable to return to work due to injuries or damage to trucks.

The ATDF says it believes that South African drivers are taken advantage of and that government has known about it for a long time. “They are the ones who should be answering questions about what’s happening in the transport sector – not us,” national secretary of the ATDF, Sifiso Nyathi, was quoted as saying in an interview with Freight News.

Source: First published in Business Fleet Africa – https://joom.ag/6DAC

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