[By Bright Tembo in Lusaka and Charles Tembo in Ndola]
TRUCK drivers have urged labour minister Joyce Nonde imukoko to sober up and not provoke drivers by stopping them to meet President Edgar Lungu.
Zambia Union of Tanker Drivers and Allied Workers secretary general Humphrey Kapesha said the minister should sober up because her statement would provoke the drivers.
“Tell the madam to tone down. As unions, we are trying to calm the situation and if she says we won’t meet Lungu, if we want we can meet him and she cannot stop us from meeting the Head of State because we are the people who voted for him into office and we just gave the minister authority to presides over us. So she cannot say we can’t meet Lungu; if we want we can meet the president,” he said.
“As the two unions, we are trying by all means to calm the situation but if she tries to provoke the drivers, they will act beyond and police cannot do anything. As a union, we are just hearing from our drivers on what to do.”
Kapesha further urged Nonde-Simukoko to sober up and not provoke the situation further.
On Friday, the drivers packed their trucks in protest against poor conditions of work from their employers and demanded to meet President Lungu.
They said they had lost confidence in the Ministry of Labour and other related ministries.
But Nonde Simukoko told the drivers that they would not meet the Head of State but urged them to go to her office.
Meanwhile, Petroleum Transporters Association of Zambia (PTAZ) has warned that the strike action by truck drivers would affect the economy.
PTAZ president Tembo said the strike by truck drivers was promoting a setback in anchoring positive engagements with government and various stakeholders.
Tembo said that the fuel transport sub sector was very important for the growth and development of the country’s economy.
Addressing journalists in Ndola, Tembo urged the truck drivers to be professional and continue to supply fuel.
“This strike is illegal to start with. The strike by the truck drivers is illegal because the responsible unions and pressure groups had not followed laid down procedures for the strike,” Tembo said.
“This strike is just motivated by a small group of people that wants others to join them.”
Tembo said the truck drivers were being threatened that anyone of them found driving would have their trucks burnt, an act he said was inhuman.
“It is inhuman to threaten drivers to be burnt. What kind of society do we want to bring in?” Tembo asked.
He advised the tanker drivers to drive to depots in Tazama to load, assuring them that the police would be there to protect them.
Tembo said the drivers should give time to the constituted council to come up with agreeable sums that would excite the transportation sector.
He said drivers should not engage government through social media because the association had offices.