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The Namibia Revolutionary Transport Union (NARETU) has expressed concern over the growing trend of truck hijackings in South Africa, saying it places the lives of the drivers at risk.

The union is therefore calling on employers to put immediate rescue plans in place to safeguard the lives of the drivers.

The Commander in Chief of NARETU, Petersen Kambinda, says they have received a number of cases where Namibian truck drivers have fallen victim to truck hijackings in South Africa.

Kambinda says although no lives have been lost, it is unfortunate that most truck drivers have lost their money and belongings during the hijacks.

"This is happening mostly when our drivers are carrying mixed loads. With such a risk, employers must put an immediate rescue plan in place to safeguard the lives of these workers and an insurance policy to insure not only their truck and load but the employees as well."

He also advised drivers to uninstall their banking apps when travelling, as this can prevent hijackers from forcefully transferring money from their bank accounts.

"One of our members got hijacked. When they hijacked him, they asked him to open his mobile phone, and when he did, they went in the phone and led him to the banking app, where they transferred the whole amount that was on his account. It was a really bad thing, but the bad part is that the company's insurance does not cover that, and you have lost while on duty. All they insure is their truck. What that employee has lost cannot be recovered."

The union also touched on the issue of truck drivers being issued traffic fines due to overload and vehicle roadworthiness.

Ideally, the union says, these tickets should be directed at the truck owner or truck's licence and not the driver.

"Drivers are out to be held accountable for tickets arising solely from their own wrongdoing rather than bearing responsibility for infractions related to the vehicle. The vast number of drivers are on warrant of arrest due to the truck owners refusing to pay tickets."

Another concern is the operation of foreign briefcase companies in Namibia without any physical addresses or offices associated with these businesses.

"Now, when you have to go because you have a dispute with the company you want to serve documents to, you will find out that the company is not in existence. As long as you don't serve them as per the Labour Act, you have to hand deliver the documents or send them by post, so it becomes problematic for the union."

The union also expressed dissatisfaction with the current Labour Act, saying it has loopholes that individuals and corporations exploit at the expense of employees.

They therefore call for a revision of the act that addresses and rectifies these loopholes.

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July Nafuka