Trucking has become a serious problem in Durban and KZN and to some extent throughout the country, says the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA).

The alliance’s coordinator, Desmond D’Sa, has urged transport authorities to establish a dry port at Cato Ridge and to take ‘killer trucks’ off the roads.Said D’Sa: “Many deaths of school kids in taxis, buses and even families were wiped out because of accidents involving trucks. Most trucks that traverse our highways and community roads are unroadworthy and have inexperienced drivers.

“Most police officers do their work and pull them over. But the fines meted out, does not register with the trucking bosses. The truck drivers continue to drive and we witness them taking up all lanes and blocking smaller traffic vehicles.”

He added that all routes whether they are north, south or west have had overturned or trucks on fire.”Over the years, a number of truck accidents have occurred without any action from the authorities to deal with this dangerous scourge on our roads, that is responsible for many people maimed and killed. The Fields Hill crash in 2013 left 24 families grieving. What will it take for the authorities to expedite action to stop these death traps on our roads?” asked D’Sa.    

The outspoken environmentalist pointed out that with a number of industrial activities happening south of Durban, residents are subjected to an overwhelming presence of trucks on the roads.”Unfortunately, these trucks have been the cause of numerous major accidents, endangering and taking the lives of the community. From 2005 to 2015, there was approximately 22 major trucking accidents in the area and a loss 90 lives.”
Listed below are some of the accidents:29 March 2005: Two fatal accidents and a toxic spill on the N3 claimed the lives of five people. The highway was closed for eight hours. A Durban-bound tanker outside Pietermaritzburg began leaking highly flammable aluminum sulphate, which had begun to eat into the tar due to its corrosive qualities. Workers cleaning up the spill needed to use breathing apparatus.Three people died when a truck crashed near the Umgeni Road off-ramp after its brakes failed. The truck hit a pedestrian and collided with another car.

June 2006: A truck driver jumped a red robot and crashed into a taxi at Old Main Road in Isipingo. The vehicles collided headon and struck a robot before skidding and hitting a street light. Eleven passengers burnt to death, and the driver was uninjured. The driver was found guilty for 11 accounts of culpable homicide and was jailed.

9 October 2006: A chemical tanker carrying 35 000 litres of methanol crashed into a car travelling back from a funeral in Durban to Johannesburg, creating a blaze that firemen fought to control for more than six hours. At least five people were burnt beyond recognition. The accident occurred on the N17 highway, and police speculated that it was a head-on collision. The tanker was heading towards Durban, and the car appeared to have gone underneath it.

10 October 2006: A truck traveling along Road 726 in Chatsworth plunged into a house, nearly killing the woman who lives there. The truck driver was seriously injured and trapped for over an hour. It was reported that the driver might have lost control due to wet and slippery roads.

12 May 2007: A truck spun out of control and crashed into a home in Zwartkop near Pietermaritzburg. No one was in the home at the time of the crash.

The driver and his passengers were killed. It was reported that the trucks brakes had failed. It took firemen two hours to extract the bodies whose limbs were strewn throughout the house.

13 August 2008: A tanker travelling in Empangeni collided and killed six people in a car. The truck driver was not injured and claimed that a tyre had burst.

27 January 2009: A truck overturned after causing a pile-up on Durban’s outer ring near Nandi Drive. Two people were critically injured.

5 September 2013: Police officers and emergency personnel had their hands full in dealing with a horrific accident, caused by a truck, after its brakes failed and sped down Field’s Hill. 24 people were killed. In taking the off-ramp from the M13 to Old Main Road in Pinetown, the vehicle passed through a red robot and crashed into multiple cars and taxis. The vehicle was reported to be unworthy. The driver, Sanele May, had falsified his license and of pleaded guilty to 24 counts of culpable homicide and is serving his sentence at Westville Prison.

16 October 2013: A runaway truck ploughed into four cars and and two taxis on Berea Road. The truck went out of control at Tollgate Bridge.

A taxi driver said that if it were not for the red robot preventing other traffic, the truck could have killed even more. The cascade of vehicles caused a street child to be hit and killed. One of the taxis spun three times after being hit by the truck.

4 August 2015: Two fuel tankers crashed at 4am, spilling burning fuel along both sides of the N2 south of Durban near Natal Portland Cement. One truck was parked in the breakdown lane and the other rear-ended it, causing the first truck to collide with the middle armco barriers.

The crash resulted in a fireball that could be seen several kilometers away and closed the N2, causing severe traffic issues. The flames of the crash reached the pedestrian bridge crossing the highway and left huge clouds of black smoke.