KZN riots: Damage to road freight industry will see businesses close, warns industry body

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  • The Road Freight Association on Sunday warned the consequences in the aftermath of 33 trucks lost in the KZN riots would lead to some businesses closing and unemployment.
  • It said transporters were already seeking alternative routes in other African countries to transport goods.
  • The industry body called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to quell the riots and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

The Road Freight Association (RFA), whose members lost trucks and goods during the KwaZulu-Natal riots, warned the repercussions would be devastating to businesses.

At least 33 trucks were set alight, 26 of them on the N3 in Mooi River. 

RFA CEO Gavin Kelly said small businesses linked to the freight industry might shut down.

"We have small business owners who most probably have lost everything - their business, their vehicles, as well as the loads they were carrying. Their employees could very well face the ogre of unemployment. This, through no fault of their own - but solely due to the wanton and indiscriminate destruction by protesters," Kelly added on Sunday.

READ | Pro-Zuma protest turns into an extortion racket in Nkandla

"The effects on the freight industry are reverberating far past Mooi River. There are companies that may well now be closed - forever. There are cargo owners [people who pay transporters to move their goods] who are now looking at alternative routes - through Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and even further north."

He said many small economies along the trucking routes - such as fuel and refreshment stations as well as security - would be severely affected by companies changing routes.

"Damages are not only related to the cost of replacing vehicles, cargoes, equipment and the road infrastructure that is destroyed. Yes, these easily run into the millions of rand.

"The cost to employees in losing their jobs as companies close operations,  the loss of income for their families and the support network they provide and the impact that this violence has on the communities they originate and live in, is almost impossible to calculate."

READ | Riots damaging to economy, Ramaphosa must show 'decisive leadership' - Business Unity SA

Kelly called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure the violence was stopped and those responsible for it to be held accountable.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Ramaphosa should put together an effective plan to stop the riots "aimed at destroying our democracy, our economy and our fledgling new businesses that have had to endure so much under Covid", he said.

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