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Durban - Constructing a dedicated freight road to Durban’s port is one of the solutions being looked at by city officials to reduce the number of heavy vehicles and accidents on Field’s Hill.
Another long-term proposal made by eThekwini’s transport department was to develop weighbridges at strategic points to monitor and prosecute non-compliant offenders.
These recommendations are made in a report submitted to mayor James Nxumalo by eThekwini Transport Authority head Thami Manyathi and detailing what the municipality could do to avert further accidents on the M13.
It was compiled after the accident on the M13 in which 23 people died when a truck ploughed into a number of vehicles on September 5.
Nxumalo called on transport officials to look into amending by-laws to ban heavy vehicles from Field’s Hill. He said the national and provincial governments were working with the city to find a solution to ease traffic on the M13.
Heavy vehicles were restricted during the morning peak period to ease congestion. A short-term solution that was being considered was also to ban heavy vehicles during the afternoon peak time.
The report said that on average, daily traffic on Field’s Hill in both directions was 60 000 vehicles, with heavy goods vehicles accounting for 6 percent of the volume.
Other routes like the M7 and N3 are equally busy and carry a higher percentage of heavy vehicles.
“In the past three years, there have been 582 accidents on the M13 Field’s Hill, mainly involving private vehicles. Durban is a port city, and large-scale expansion of the harbour is planned.
“The number of heavy goods vehicles travelling to the port is therefore expected to increase significantly,” the report said.
Regular enforcement by the metro police, the road traffic inspectorate and other agencies was required along the key freight routes.
“There is no lighting on Field’s Hill. Accident statistics show that in the past three years, 21 percent of accidents occurred at night. It is recommended all freight routes are provided with lighting to improve visibility and the safety of all road users.”
The report also recommends driver training programmes for all heavy vehicle drivers. The use of simulators should be investigated to assist with driver training and retraining.
“The points-demerit system needs to be accelerated for implementation so all stakeholders are held accountable for road safety,” the report says.
Transport MEC Willies Mchunu had begun consultations with role-players, including the Field’s Hill task team, the Road Freight Association, the business community, eThekwini Municipality and residents, department spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said.
“We welcome that eThekwini has come up with proposals and recommendations and the MEC will interrogate the report.
“We are all considering measures on how best we can deal with the Field’s Hill issue,” Ncalane said.
Gregory Govender, the owner of Sagekal Logistics and the ill-fated truck, commissioned a private forensic collision homicide reconstruction expert, Stan Bezuidenhout, to study the accident.
Bezuidenhout said yesterday that the truck driver, Sanele May’s trip had been documented using vehicle tracking information.
“According to the tracker report we found that Sanele approached a compulsory stop at 34km/h. After this, he immediately accelerated to 50km/h, without stopping.”
This meant May would have failed to adhere to the requirement of changing to the lowest gear, the report alleged.
Bezuidenhout said he had found “brake lining failure” due to overheating.