Large trucks breaking down, getting stuck and blocking up residential roads have become an ever-increasing problem in Durban for fed-up residents and frustrated motorists.
On Mazisi Kunene Road (formerly South Ridge Road), off Tollgate Bridge, truck incidents have become almost a daily occurrence, with one truck dropping a disintegrated engine and oil onto the road on Thursday. Another truck jack-knifed across the same road last weekend.
The SD (South Durban) Trucking Coalition, which has representatives from suburbs across Durban, and particularly towards the south basin area, including Glenwood, Umbilo, Bluff, Seaview, Montclair, Wentworth and Clairwood, have joined forces to address the issue of trucks in the suburbs.
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance’s (SDCEA) Shanice Firmin, who heads up the SD Trucking Coalition, said yesterday that support for the coalition had grown in momentum this year, with residents wanting to keep their communities safe.
“Trucks have been bulldozing through the suburbs, damaging infrastructure and poles, and residents are starting to speak out. They don’t want their neighbourhoods to look like this,” said Firmin.
She said a meeting with the municipality had been scheduled for August 19 to address the trucking issues.
“We want to address this in a coherent way in which all the interested parties are involved.
“Residents want roads and signage indicating trucks cannot enter residential spaces. In some places there isn’t any signage, or if there is, truckers are ignoring it and proceeding into residential spaces.
“This is even happening during peak traffic times and the number of accidents start spiralling. These are not isolated incidents, but are frequent. Not only residents are being affected, but also businesses along roads such as Solomon Mahlangu (formerly Edwin Swales)
“We need Metro to sit down and hear these issues from residents. We need enforcement and police visibility. We need a formalisation of trucking routes and no-go roads into residential spaces,” she said.
Coalition member and Glenwood resident Brain Ashe said that whether trucks were taking suburban roads inadvertently because of GPS directions, or deliberately trying to take a short-cut to the port, the truck congestion in suburbs was getting worse by the day.
“We are trying to work with the City to resolve the trucking issues in suburbs, mainly with roads leading to the industrial basin and into the port. All the roads are getting heavily congested in that area, whether trucks are going into the port or trying to access the new container logistic hubs.
“We have even had fuel tankers coming into residential areas and that is a worry. The municipality needs to demarcate roads which are not suitable for trucks,” said Ashe.
Professor David Mcquoid-Mason, who heads up the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal said eThekwini department officials, SAPS and eThekwini Metro police may be held “civilly and criminally liable for negligently allowing large trucks to use narrow, hilly and steep suburban roads”.
Citing Mazisi Kunene Road as an example of this, Mcquoid-Mason said: “The increasing use through a residential area by large trucks may result in the City and its traffic officials and SAPS and Metro being held legally liable for negligence, should property be damaged or somebody killed as a result.
“In the case of anyone being killed, in addition to the vicarious liability of the City and the two police services for damages, the individual official decision-makers could be personally charged with culpable homicide. The same would apply to truck drivers and the owners of the trucks.
“For nearly a century, the courts have held that municipalities that harm persons or property by negligently introducing a new source of danger may be held liable for any damage caused as a result. Likewise for nearly half a century, the courts have held that police officers who negligently or intentionally fail to prevent a crime committed in their presence, may be held liable for any damages that result.”
Ethekwini Metro spokesperson, senior superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said yesterday that responsibility for road signage lay with the eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA).
“I’m aware that there are trucks coming into the residential areas, the ETA need to put signs up and then we can enforce that. Both ETA and Metro need to be present at the planned meeting.
“We take the GPS routing as a poor reason. Truck drivers know the route to the port and they know they are not supposed to deviate from that route. Truck owners have tracking on all their trucks, so it is also their responsibility to track as to where their trucks are going,” said Parboo.
The SD Trucking Coalition has developed a Google form where residents or businesses can log hotspot areas and congestion.
For more information, the SD Trucking Coalition can be contacted on either email at [email protected] or WhatsApp 069 1184227.
For eThekwini Metro control room, contact 031 361 0000.
The Independent on Saturday