South African truck drivers have embarked on a nationwide shutdown calling for the country’s trucking companies to remove non-South African drivers on the roads and replace them with local and qualified ones.They argue that the industry is dominated by foreign nationals, claiming that 90 percent of drivers are foreign, a condition which they denounce.
The strike which started on Tuesday, has seen some roads been blocked, burning of trucks and some sporadic attacks on truck drivers who come from different countries on the African continent. This means the energy sector in Lesotho will feel the pain as the country imports petroleum products from South Africa. But now with the strike underway, local truck companies cannot travel to the neighbouring country if they are to remain safe.
Incidents of foreign trucks being set alight have also been reported across the breadth and length of South Africa.Petroleum Fund has warned that the next few days will be the most difficult in the country as suppliers will begin to feel the actual impact of the strike.
“At the moment there has not been much impact because it is still early days but definitely we will be affected if it continues. Other countries such as Botswana are already feeling the heat but for us I think we are going to see more troubles in the next few days, at the moment I think our suppliers still have enough stock at their disposal,” said Petroleum Fund operations manager Lebohang Makhoali in an interview with Metro news on Wednesday.
The best way to overcome challenges of this nature, Makhoali said would be for the country to establish the Strategic Storage Facilities as part of their infrastructure development. With these facilities in place, the energy sector would not struggle during times of emergency.
Makhoali said however, that work is in progress to ensure establishment of such facilities in the near future. “There is a study that is currently being conducted in relation to these issues and it will be completed very soon. Storage facilities should be our only hope under the current circumstances. But unfortunately now we are going to be almost hard hit because we do not have them as yet,” he added.
The issue of storage facilities has also been included in the Petroleum Fund Strategic Plan 2020-2025 that was launched in March. It is clearly stated under the new five-year strategic plan that the Fund will continue to support Government’s efforts to establish a Strategic Storage Facility and Depots for all products. The Chairman of the Petroleum Fund Board Mathealira Lerotholi had shown earlier in 2019 the importance of the said facilities in the energy sector.