Some KZN communities take a stand to prevent trucks from passing through their areas following fatal crashes

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Crashes involving trucks in KwaZulu-Natal have caused some communities to take a stand to prevent trucks from passing through their areas.

Complaints about truck drivers’ road behaviour have been on the increase, highlighted by the crash at Pongola which claimed 20 lives last month.

Since the crash people from Pongola are preventing trucks from taking the N2 through the town.

Truck drivers say there are a number of factors that contribute to crashes.

Nonkululeko Hlophe spoke to drivers at a truck stop at Mooi River and filed this report.

The increase in the number of trucks on the roads is a source of concern among other road users. The recent crashes involving trucks in the province have worsened the situation. A community member who spoke under condition of anonymity, says there is a need for visible policing on the roads.

“Two weeks back, driving from Ladysmith to Escourt there was a truck driver who was driving recklessly. That went on for about 15 kilometers. That was difficult for us driving smaller cars. I think if they can increase police visibility that can save more lives because sometimes we suspect other drivers are driving intoxicated.”

Thabang Ndlovu, a truck driver shared some of the challenges they experience.

Ndlovu says a handful of truck drivers driving recklessly is impacting all of them.

“Although I respect all the rules of the road but sometimes at night I see some other truck drivers speeding. I appeal to other truck drivers, they need to ensure they rest and sleep, because some of the accidents happen if the driver did not sleep. If you are tired please don’t force yourself to continue driving. If you see a truck overturned, that is due to a driver losing control of the vehicle or falling asleep at wheel. I don’t blame communities who do not want trucks in their areas but that means even us innocent truck drivers are affected as we will spend more time on the roads.”

Another truck driver, Nelson Mhlongo says some truck drivers are paid per load, and that’s why they spend more hours on the road.

“Because there is lack of knowledge. some do not have experience. Drivers do not have experience. Most of them are coming from the taxi industry, others are coming from the farm, (and) another burning issue (is) they do not have basic (sic). They are paid with a load (and) that’s a major problem.”

The taxi industry is equally worried about crashes involving trucks.

Santaco KwaZulu-Natal Chairperson, Boy Zondi says, “We have started engaging truck owners and drivers to try and find a way forward. How do we work together in addressing these issues that are raised by our drivers and the community at large. One other issue is Sanral. We have spoken to Sanral because we get affected by them upgrading the road, you find that the road becomes narrow. We have raised our concerns. We are saying they need to look into it. we are not saying they must not upgrade the road. We definitely do appreciate the upgrades but it takes long.”

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC, Sipho Hlomuka says the government is still exploring means to reduce trucks on the roads.

“We are aware that at Peter Brown there is a number of accidents that have taken place. We have now increased the traffic officers to increase visibility on various roads, not only on N3. We have engaged with the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula. He has made commitments and that we are going to engage with Transnet so that some of the goods, especially coal must be transported through rail. We are also going to be engaging with stakeholders of uPhongolo to work with us to try to reduce the number of trucks that are transporting goods (on the) N2.”