TRUCK drivers have threatened to paralyse the entire transport sector in Zambia.
In an open letter to President Edgar Lungu, the truck drivers, who do crossborder and local trips, lamented that they had been taken for granted and if their demands were not met, they would paralyse the country’s entire transport sector.
They are demanding among other incentives better conditions of service and salary hike of not less than K15,000 after deductions.
“We have been taken for granted as professional truck drivers in Zambia, both who do cross border and local trips. In this regard, we demand the following and if our demands are not taken seriously, we promise to paralyse the entire transport sector in Zambia. We demand for better conditions of service and handsome salaries of not less than K15,000 after deductions, which is slightly near what our colleagues are getting in other SADC countries e.g. South Africa, Namibia and the DRC,” reads the letter in part.
The truck drivers also want to know how Somalians acquire legal documents like the Zambian National Registration Card, passport and driver’s licence and eventually get employed as professional drivers in Zambia while many Zambian drivers were languishing without employment.
They are also demanding that the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) extends the years of renewing PDP to five years.
“Dangerous goods certificate should not be renewed but instead drivers should be subjected to refresher courses to be renewed every two years and such services to be offered by any well-meaning and recognised institution. No need of being retested when endorsing a class in the driver’s licence if one already has a dangerous goods certificate and class CE on the driver’s license,” the drivers stated.
They lamented that there were no clear labour laws to distinguish between a professional driver and an ordinary driver thus demanded that some of the labour laws be amended in their favour.
“Many are the times we run to the Ministry of Labour for assistance when we have problems with our employers but we have always received little or no help at all plus the ministry approves working contracts with poor working conditions and because of this we demand serious government intervention. There are no clear labour laws to distinguish between a professional driver and an ordinary driver and for this reason we demand that some of the labour laws be amended in favour of us the economy movers. We demand for government intervention and facilitate for the immediate release of our colleagues who are incarcerated in foreign countries for different offences e.g the one saving 29 years jail sentence in Tanzania and the other who is in remand prison in Namibia. We have a lot troubling us but for now we demand the above cited demands to be addressed. We know that our able President Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu is not even aware of the suffering we go through as drivers and the entire driving sector.”
The drivers praised the President for the “good and powerful Labour Day speech in favour of employees and the stance you have taken on KCM.
“And we request you to extend the same to the transport sector so that the transporters who are in the habit of harassing, intimidating employees and paying poor salaries should also pack and go. We promise to always work with the government of the day,” the stated.
The truck drivers said they would stage a peaceful protest on June 1 if their demands are not addressed.