Editor's Comment

Drivers must stop protest

FUEL is everything – people’s movements, transportation of goods, emergency services such as ambulances and fire-fighting vehicles, for use in electricity standby devices such as generators, among others.
Already, the shortage of fuel is being felt in certain parts of the country, including Lusaka, the capital city.
It is simply very disruptive to productivity.
It is a pity that the current shortage of fuel has been caused by a strike by fuel tanker drivers over grievances regarding a 50 percent share of transporting the commodity.
They are protesting the alleged unfair treatment by oil marketing companies (OMCs), which appear to prefer foreign transporters particularly on loading restrictions from foreign countries and the distribution contracts locally.
Three months ago, Government signed a statutory instrument reserving 50 percent for local drivers to be transporting the commodity.
However, it has turned out that only 13 percent is being used by local tanker drivers instead of the 50 percent.
Given this situation, employers of the tank drivers were supposed to protest to OMCs and not the drivers.
It is therefore surprising that oil tanker drivers are the ones who have resorted to strike instead of their employers.
Zambia has a well-established grievance procedure, which is supposed to be adhered to. Resorting to striking is not the solution. .
The more the strike persists, the more the country is running out of fuel and is hurting the economy. As a result, the strike is now tantamount to sabotage because it is defeating the essence for which it was designed.
Even the sympathy tanker drivers wanted is slowly being lost because they are inconveniencing thousands of motorists and industries.
The truth must be brought out on why Zambians are not given more of the business. If it is a question of inadequate vehicles or incompetence, that must be brought to the fore.
So far, these have not been stated as reasons for limiting the allocation to the paltry 13 percent.
Some of the protesting drivers have stated that this can’t be a question of inadequate tankers because they are just not allowed to load their vehicles while their counterparts from other countries are attended to.
So, where is the problem? Is someone just ignoring the allocation entitlements for Zambians? If so, this too is adversely affecting the economies of the Zambians as individuals and collectively. If it is deliberate, this too is sabotage.
Two wrongs, though, don’t make a right. The drivers must heed the directive to get back to work.
With President Edgar Lungu himself taking a keen interest in the matter, the drivers can be assured that their concerns are being addressed.
They should also realise that arm-twisting methods of having their demands met are illegal and could worsen their individual situations.
They had tabled their concerns to the Minister of Transport and he had assured them that he would take their concerns to the President, which he did. So why withdraw labour?
Many sympathised with them, but ask the hundreds of the stranded motorists today and most, if not all, would have no kind words for the drivers.
So, drivers take heed: get back behind the wheel. Your problem is being actively attended to.




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