National Assembly Question Time-Moves against unauthorised pickup drivers


A vehicle ferrying workers. The government is inspecting pickups to ensure they are driven by authorised drivers

The police are also conducting random spot checks on the roads to ensure foreign drivers without the necessary permits are not driving any company transport.

Furthermore until Monday this week four pickup trucks driven by unauthorised foreign drivers have been arrested. The Minister for Labour and Human Resources Development made these announcements during Question time in the National Assembly yesterday morning.

Minister Idith Alexander stressed that apart from these measures against unauthorised foreign drivers her ministry has recently been advertising some 41 positions for drivers and Seychellois pickup owners and drivers are being urged to apply.

She noted that so far her ministry has received only 19 applications.
Companies are also being encouraged to hire the services of private pickup operators and Minister Alexander noted that considering foreign drivers for these posts will be a last but short-term option.

Minister Alexander gave these details while together with the Finance, Trade and Investment Minister Pierre Laporte they answered an urgent question by the leader of government business Marie Antoinette Rose.

The question is related to concerns raised recently by local pickup drivers who say their work opportunities are being threatened by foreign pickup drivers. She wanted details of what the government together with the private sector is doing to address the matter and also if the government is encountering any difficulties to ensure certain jobs are reserved for Seychellois only.

Minister Laporte informed the Assembly that the pickup drivers raised the concerns during a consultative meeting that he and Minister Alexander had with their association earlier this month. 

The aim was to discuss and evaluate the merit of different aspects of concerns the pickup drivers’ association had brought to the attention of government and explore ways the government could intervene in the most realistic and practical way.

Mr Laporte pointed out that as a result the government felt that the different issues related to the concerns raised should be addressed in a coordinated manner between the different ministries and concerned agencies.

“We firmly believe this is necessary as the different concerns raised touch different aspects of our economy and the livelihood of the drivers themselves,” noted the minister.

Two pertinent issues which came out strongly were the employment of foreign pickup drivers and transportation of construction material by these same foreign drivers.

Mr Laporte stressed that talks to address that issue were already ongoing and concerned government institutions were addressing its different aspects and a proposal is expected to be made known soon.

He further added that some of these aspects are the need to review road traffic regulations to ensure they are in line and meet present day demands, establish clear guidelines for prices that pickup drivers are charging for their services, review the conditions which provide for the importation of pickups in the country.

Ms Alexander said since last year her ministry has stepped up inspection of work places to ensure employment laws and regulations are respected and she stressed that checking employment of foreign workers is among her ministry’s priorities.

She noted that the inspection exercise which is being carried out jointly with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Transport started with large construction contractors.
As a result of the exercise a large number of pickup trucks were identified and the ministry has to identify who are driving them and review the work permits of their drivers to ensure they are working as per their permits.

Ms Alexander noted that there are 55 large class 1 construction companies and already 35 of them have been inspected and among these 14 have foreign drivers working without the necessary permits and therefore not respecting conditions of their recruitment and their employers not respecting employment and immigration regulations.

“These contractors have been warned and instructed to stop the practice, to employ Seychellois drivers or rent pickups from Seychellois for their transport needs,” said the minister.
She noted that the contractors who disregard the instructions would be severely dealt with.

Ms Alexander also cited the different jobs reserved for Seychellois and these include tourist guides, drivers, assistant architects, human resource managers, coxswain, shop managers, bank clerks, social workers, youth workers among others. But the minister noted that challenges remain as some of these posts are being occupied by foreigners because the country cannot supply human resources to fill in these posts taking into account our small population.

She said everything is being done to address the situation as much as possible.

To further consolidate its effort in that direction in February this year the ministry announced a localization plan aimed at ensuring the smooth running of the localisation process.