The Draft Amendments propose the insertion of regulation 116A:
116A. Authority of a Professional Driving Permit issued in a foreign Country
(1) the Authority provided by a professional driving permit issued in a foreign country shall apply in respect of a vehicle registered in the country that issued any such permit.
(2) A permit referred to in sub-regulation(1), shall not apply to a vehicle registered in the republic.
The Draft Amendments will therefore effectively ban drivers who hold a Public Drivers Permit (PDP) issued by a foreign country from operating vehicles registered in South Africa.
The proposed Draft Amendments have sparked much debate in the industry with some proponents coming out strongly in support of the proposal and with opponents stating that this will make foreign drivers unemployable and in fact penalises the victims of the violence and unrest in the country.
It should further be kept in mind, that such a move could not only jeopardise the Africa Free Trade Agreement and sour relationships with other African countries who might, in turn implement similar regulations, but will also present a challenge to employers currently employing and utilising the services of foreign drivers.
A further consideration that should not be overlooked is that the vast majority of South Africa’s regional exports are transported by road and many of the transport companies employ foreign drivers due to their familiarity with the foreign country as well as the language, people, customs and regulations associated with such countries.
It remains to be seen who will have the final comment on this matter, but what can be said for now, is that the industry seems stalled at a critical point. Whilst everyone agrees that decisive action is definitely and urgently needed, one cannot forget that we operate in an increasingly globalised economy and the Free Trade Agreement and African Union relations might be an unintended casualty of this decision.
From an employment law perspective, employers within the industry will need to start thinking about how to handle their internal operations if they are one of the employers who employ foreign truck drivers and engage in regional import and export via road.