Truckers and motorists waited for 10 hours for Van Reenens Pass to open yesterday after three accidents involving 20 vehicles meant that the route was closed in both directions. The accidents happened in morning mist.

KwaZulu-Natal - A major economic artery, the N3, was closed for more than 10 hours following three pile-ups involving 20 vehicles on Van Reenen’s Pass on Wednesday.

Con Roux, spokesman for the N3 toll concession, said that the long delay was caused by the clean-up of spilt cargo.

A long line of truckers and motorists was stopped on either side of the pass where they waited all day to be given the go-ahead to continue their journeys.

Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said one person died and three others were seriously injured.

Roux said the morning mist made visibility very poor.

Motorists were advised to use other routes or postpone travel plans.

Trucker Clinton Harry, driving from Joburg to Durban, was stranded in Harrismith.

“The load I am carrying is very sensitive. It does not allow me to turn around and take alternative routes, as instructed by the rescue personnel. We are monitored and my stops are limited,” said Harry.

“Unfortunately there was nothing I could do but sit and wait until the road was reopened.”

The N3 concession toll apologised to Harry by Twitter, saying: “Hang in there! Guys are working flat-out to clear three different accident scenes. Will keep you posted!”

A motorist tweeted: “Standing dead-still in the middle of it.” The concession replied: “Sorry to hear you’re stuck in the middle of it, Manie.”

The Road Freight Association said that the delays were causing a headache for trucking companies.

Spokesman Gavin Kelly said: “We received reports of trucks being stacked from midnight on Wednesday. Any time trucks are delayed and stacked, it affects deliveries.”

He said it was difficult for truckers to take alternative routes. These roads were narrow and truckers were advised to avoid them.

Department of Transport spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said the closure of the road had a serious impact on the province’s economy. “The road links KZN to other provinces and people rely on it to transport goods,” he said. - The Mercury