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Durban - The owner of the truck that crashed into four fully laden minibus taxis and several cars in Pinetown on Thursday night, said he did not sleep after details of the carnage emerged.
On Friday morning, Gregory Govender, owner of the Phoenix-based Sagekal Logistics, said it was still unclear what had happened.
Govender said: “We don’t know what happened, we have not been able to speak to the driver.”
He said the 22-wheeler had been travelling from Johannesburg and was destined for Durban port.
A shocked Govender said he first heard the news after he received a call from a tow truck company.
As the details of the carnage began to emerge, he tried to phone the driver but the phone would ring and cut off.
Police then phoned him and informed him that the driver had been arrested.
“They said they were taking him to the Pinetown police station but did not allow me to talk to him.”
Govender said it was the first time any of his trucks had been involved in a crash.
“It is not unusual for our drivers to use Field’s Hill, other truckers do as well. We will have to wait for the investigation to find out what happened.”
Govender expressed his condolences to the families of dead and his concern for the injured.
He said he would visit his driver in jail on Friday.
Meanwhile, Conomirra, an umbrella body for all the ratepayer associations in the outer west area has for years been pressuring the Department of Transport and Sanral to build a new toll plaza near the Lion Park in Camperdown and Cato Ridge in lieu of Mariannhill.
Conomirra member, Dave Smith, said this would ease the traffic on the M13 and force trucks to use the N3.
He said trucks go down Field’s Hill to avoid the Marianhill Toll Plaza and getting caught in the weigh bridge near Westmead.
“Driving down Field’s Hill into Pinetown is simply not sensible. There is no arrestor bed and because it is narrow with only two lanes, there is no space to veer off if there is a problem,” said Smith.
This stretch of road, a downhill slope, is notorious for crashes.
Smith said over the years he has seen many accidents but nothing like this.
“Accident’s here are always very serious, but this is absolutely horrendous. We need to find a way to get trucks off Fields Hill, it is costing people’s lives.”
Smith urged truckers and their companies to think about people who suffer before avoiding a R30 toll.
“It may be a public road but their right to use the road must be balanced with peoples’ right to life. Trucks are only forced to stop at St Helier in Gillitts until after the morning rush but as soon as that time has elapsed, they are back on the road again and people continue losing their lives,” said Smith.