Truck attacks: 'You can never fully heal a driver who has psychological damage'

Attacks on trucks and subsequent looting are becoming a regular occurrence in the Western Cape.

On Thursday, a section of the N1 highway had to be closed after vehicles were stoned and flat-screen TVs looted from two trucks during protests in De Doorns. In another incident a truck was looted in Worcester after it was involved in an accident.

CapeTalk's Africa Melane speaks to Gavin Kelly, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Road Freight Association.

Kelly notes that there are different reasons driving attacks on truck drivers - while those in the Western Cape are opportunistic, recent attacks on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal targeted foreign drivers.

He says when there is a protest situation police should ideally be on the scene of before drivers become targets.

In the case of foreign nationals, the relevant bargaining council and the Department of Labour should be consulting to ensure that only properly documented people are employed in the industry.

Kelly says this is already part of the Road Freight Association's core code and foreign truck drivers are usually used on cross-border routes.

RELATED: Foreign truck drivers plead for government intervention

Obviously they know the conditions, speak the language etc.

Gavin Kelly, CEO - Road Freight Association

He's heartened to hear that police arrested seven suspects after the De Doorns incident.

Over the last couple of months we've just seen an increasing incidence of common violence and trucks seem to be the easy target.

Gavin Kelly, CEO - Road Freight Association

They're large and travel slowly and once you stop or block a road, then of course the truck is fair game.

Gavin Kelly, CEO - Road Freight Association

He says aside from the material cost of truck attacks, the human cost is also a heavy burden.

You cannot replace the life of a driver, you cannot fully heal a driver who has psychological damage.

Gavin Kelly, CEO - Road Freight Association

When you have a crowd of people coming at you screaming and shouting and threatening to burn, one can only imagine what sort of psychological torment that driver must go through.

Gavin Kelly, CEO - Road Freight Association

He says training is provided to drivers on how to deal with threatening situations and the process of reporting incidents.

First and foremost we've said to the drivers: The cargo is not more important than your life, the vehicle is not more important than your life... This is what you need to do, your life comes first.

Gavin Kelly, CEO - Road Freight Association

Kelly adds that aside from the resultant cost to the economy in terms of destroyed trucks and infrastructure, insurance premiums have started to rise in the wake of regular attacks on trucks.

Listen to the conversation with the CEO of the Road Freight Association below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Truck attacks: 'You can never fully heal a driver who has psychological damage'


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