SA strike threatens NamBy: DENVER KISTING
A TWO week-old transport strike in South Africa is threatening to cripple Namibia’s cross-border transport services as well as the retail industry. Local retailers and logistics companies yesterday complained that they were all feeling the pinch of the strike in the neighbouring country.
According to manager of Shoprite Namibia, Melkisedek Kandjii, the retailer is running low on stock – especially of items currently on promotion in their stores. “At the moment, I don’t think there is something that we can do. Yes, it’s a crisis,” he said.
They have run out of grills, dustbins and kettles, among other things.
Burger Bergh of Wesbank Transport and Jensen Transport says 75% of their business operations have ground to a halt. “More than half of my trucks are in South Africa and the drivers are stranded there. We can’t do any work and do not generate revenue.”
Because of the unrest accompanying the strike – with some trucks being set on fire and others pelted with stones and rocks – they are not able “to send trucks from here or from there”.
“Every day’s work we lose is a lot of money. The drivers are paid per kilometre, so this has a huge impact on everything.”
The drivers stranded in the neighbouring country “are people with families”, he said.
Berg emphasised that the whole of Namibia is dependent on transport.
Dirkie Uys, the general manager of FP du Toit Transport, said: “Our services are negatively affected.”
They have been forced to put the safety of their drivers first, he said. “We don’t take any chances. And our clients are disadvantaged by this.”
He said one of their trucks was stoned by striking transport workers this week.
Uys said another truck’s window was shattered by stone-throwers.
Because courier services are time-bound, this wing of their business is more affected, Uys said yesterday. “We offer our excuse to clients, but it is beyond our control.”
He said the Cape Town route was not as badly affected as the Johannesburg and Durban routes. They transport clothes, hardware and other consumer goods.
Paul Naudé of Blaauw’s Transport said they too had not been spared the impact of the strike. “We are quite affected but have fortunately not come to a complete standstill.”
He said they were making use of alternative routes to try and escape the strike. This has resulted in delays.
One of their trucks had to turn around after almost crashing into a roadblock set up by the strikers. They too transport general consumer goods.
Divan Opperman of Commercial Investment Corporation (CIC) said they always had extra stock to last a week.
“So if it [the strike] goes on a week from now, we’ll be in trouble and won’t be able to supply retailers. We’re holding our breath.”
CIC transports and delivers groceries to retail outlets.
Eicker de Klerk of Taeuber & Corssen said: “Of course it affects us – stock is delayed.”
He said it depended on the duration of the strike whether they would be able to keep supplying retailers. They transport and supply groceries and frozen food to retail outlets.
According to Henry Feris of Pick n Pay, they will have “serious issues” should the strike continue until next week.