News24.com | Western Cape government bid to reduce number of farmworkers ferried on lorries after crashes

The scene of a crash on a farm.

The scene of a crash on a farm.

PHOTO: Drakenstein Farm Watch

  • The Western Cape government wants laws relating to the transport of farmworkers on trucks and lorries changed.
  • This comes after a series of deadly crashes, with no apparent legislation referring specifically to this group of vulnerable workers.
  • The Western Cape Department of Transport has welcomed the decision by the province’s Standing Committee on Agriculture.

The Western Cape government wants laws relating to the transport of farmworkers on the back of bakkies and lorries changed.

This comes after the provincial legislature’s Standing Committee on Agriculture backed the bid by Agri Western Cape and the agriculture department to institute safer transport for agricultural workers.

The committee has recommended that no more than 50% of the licensed capacity of a vehicle be exceeded and that directions regarding hygienic conditions and Covid-19 regulations be adhered to by all concerned.

Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer, in a statement this week, said:

I welcome the news that the Western Cape Provincial Parliament’s Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Planning is giving serious attention to agri-worker transport.

“The transporting of agri-workers on open trucks poses a significant threat to the safety of agri-workers,” he said.

Meyer said no law exists determining the number of people to be loaded at the back of a bakkie or truck.

READ | Activists demand drastic intervention on farmworker truck transport

The only way to determine whether a truck is overloaded is by weighing it at a weighbridge.

Doing so is difficult as body weight differs from the goods load usually transported by heavy vehicles.

Crashes in January and March have highlighted the vulnerability of farmworkers transported in this manner.

“Therefore, the National Minister of Transport [Fikile Mbalula] should amend current regulation 247 of the National Transport Regulations accordingly, and I will be raising this with my counterpart,” Meyer said.

He said the department’s Technical Committee on Rural Safety will also be considering making agri-worker transport a focus area of its rural safety plan.

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