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Truck owners to meet with uPhongolo residents in northern KZN after protest causes road closure

Two trucks on a road.

Trucks on a Cape road. Residents in uPhongolo Municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal have blocked heavy duty trucks from using the road in the area as they say that drivers are not obeying road rules. File Picture: Henk Kruger African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 20, 2023


Durban - Residents in uPhongolo (Pongola) in northern KwaZulu-Natal are not allowing trucks to use the road leading to the town, due to their concerns over reckless and negligent driving and speeding.

The residents closed the road to trucks on Monday ahead of the opening of schools on Wednesday.

The incident comes after last year’s horror crash that claimed the lives of 20 people, including 18 schoolchildren, after a truck smashed into a bakkie on the N2 to uPhongolo.

After that incident, KZN’s Transport Department said there would be a focus on trucks, including random assessments of vehicles, checks on drivers’ documentation, fitness of drivers, and their conduct on the road.

Yesterday, the uPhongolo Municipality confirmed that residents had closed the road as they claimed the truck drivers were not following the rules of the road.

Acting mayor of uPhongolo Municipality, Bheki Thwala, said residents had raised a range of grievances about the behaviour of truck drivers.

“The residents have been calling for a meeting with truck owners due to truck drivers speeding, not complying with rules of the road and not keeping a safe following distance. Unfortunately this (meeting) has not materialised and led to residents blocking the road to heavy duty trucks.” Thwala added that the road to uPhongolo was at present closed to heavy duty trucks.

“I can confirm that the road to uPhongolo has been closed to heavy duty trucks. There is an agreement that there will be a meeting with truck owners and community members on a way forward on Monday, January 24,” he said.

The Road Freight Association said it was concerned about the trucks being blocked from the area.

Gavin Kelly, Road Freight Association CEO said: “The Road Freight Association has repeatedly called on the authorities (at various levels in government) to address the issue of non-compliant operators (transporters), as well as to deal with any offences committed – especially where such offences may be repeatedly committed and are the root cause for accidents that occur.”

He added that given the huge increase in coal transport by road through the area to Richards Bay, it was expected that the provincial traffic authority would allocate more resources to the routes.

The Department of Transport did not respond by time of publication.