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Trucks cause chaos in Durban

IOL News 30 April 2016

Durban - Durban residents are fighting back against trucks taking over their quiet suburban roads.

These “lost trucks” have become an issue that has pressed buttons in communities all the way from South Durban to Glenwood.

Bryan Ashe, who lives in Mazisi Kunene (South Ridge) Road, told The Independent on Saturday that on one occasion he had to advise truckers of their bearings, as they feared they had gone off course on the steep road that is unsuitable for trucks.

He said the truck problem started with the opening of the Khangela Bridge, forming the main entrance and exit to the harbour, in 2009.

“Their GPSes tell them where to go. Suddenly they find themselves in an area with lots of hills that are not shown on a GPS,” said Ashe. “They get nervous.”

They are ultimately headed for roads like Rick Turner (formerly Francois), but they have sometimes landed up lost in smaller streets of the suburbs.

Ashe also said that on a few occasions trucks had jack-knifed in the suburbs. Help from the authorities had been needed to get them going again.

By the time of publication, metro police had not responded to requests for information about how often they helped out with such problems.

Further downhill and closer to the harbour, Vanessa Black, chairwoman of the Earthlife environmental activist organisation, said heavy trucks had become an increasingly common sight on small roads with three-ton limits, and even in one-way streets.

“They use these roads to avoid passing the Umbilo police station at the corner of Esther Roberts (Frere) Road and Deodar.”

Black said the trucking started about two years ago, but had become particularly heavy over the past 18 months.

She attributed it to the increase in the number of business premises at the southern end of Esther Roberts Road.

Desmond D’Sa, chairman of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said city residents were increasingly finding their neighbouring properties rezoned for industrial use.

“Sometimes this is done illegally,” he added.

Often it was done to accommodate truck logistics depots.

“Residents wake up to the sound of air brakes at 2am.”

The increase in heavy truck traffic through Durban this week featured on a hit list of issues the alliance wants addressed by Transnet and the eThekwini Municipality.

“We need only think about the Field’s Hill carnage to understand the chaos trucks can cause on our roads,” the organisation stated in a memorandum presented to Transnet at the harbour entrance during a Freedom Day protest.

“Why are we not making more of an effort to introduce rail as a matter of urgency?”

Other issues related to the removal of subsistence fishermen from the harbour, the uncertain future vegetable farmers face at the old Durban airport, the loss of Clairwood Racecourse as a green lung, and “false employment opportunities” offered by Transnet harbour developments.

“In recent months, we have found that many of our problems are worsening, especially because of the way industry, especially Transnet, is being given free rein in the city,” the memorandum added.

The alliance demanded of eThekwini Municipality, which did not send a representative to the march, and Transnet, that they draw up road and rail infrastructure plans for Durban.

By the time of publication, neither the municipality nor Transnet had responded to requests for comment.

D’Sa said he wondered what had happened to ideas to build a dry port at Cato Ridge to and from which goods could be railed between it and Durban Harbour.

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