­­­­­­Our roads are not a B&B

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Kate-Merie Ferreira

Truck drivers are once again taking over the streets of Piet Retief at night, with almost every major road in town being parked full of trucks.

Business owners have attempted to prevent truckers from stopping in front of their stores by placing “no parking” signs or obstacles on the parking spaces but, it seems that these hurdles are simply moved out of the way and are no longer effective.

Ever since a petrol bomb was thrown at a truck that was parked in front of a local shop a while ago and a few stores were damaged, business owners have been concerned that the same might happen again and with good reason. If a truck/truck driver is attacked and your property is damaged in the process, who will be responsible to cover the costs of the damages? The truck should not have been parked there in the first place thus the onus will be on the owner of the truck.

Truck drivers also litter with no regard for their surroundings. The streets look dirty in the morning when they drive out of town. The containers of the food and drinks that they consume are often thrown out of their windows and left there for someone else to remove.

There is no place to urinate or defecate and instead of going to the nearest filling station that has free facilities for customers that they can use, they often do so on the sidewalks. Who is responsible for cleaning up the sidewalks after they defecate on them? Employees of the business in front of which they do so or municipal workers? It is absolutely disgusting that one person can expect another to clean this up after them.

According to an owner of a truck inn, approximately 90% of trucking companies do give their drivers a sleep out allocation but, drivers rather use it for additional income, food or entertainment.

In the photograph attached to this article, you can see that all of the trucks that were parked in Smit Street on Friday night 20 May, were parked illegally. Two are parked completely on the sidewalk and two more were parked facing oncoming traffic.

The drivers also use side streets that were not built to withstand their heavy loads, which causes more damage than the Mkhondo Local Municipality will ever be able to fully repair. Sidewalks are becoming damaged beyond repair and they also drive over storm-water drains, causing irreparable damage.

On Thursday night 19 May, when parents fetched their children from a school function at about 20:00, there were many trucks speeding through Church Street and some drivers did not even bother to halt at the 3-way stop at the primary school. According to the parents, they attempted to signal to the truck drivers that they are not allowed to drive there, or to at least slow down but, some truckers used offensive finger language and ignored them. 

On Friday night, as stated in the AfriForum article, a traffic officer did hand out three fines to drivers who were using Church Street illegally but, what about the rest of them? Why are the drivers not instructed to move away and rather utilise the local truck stop?

Whatever the reason behind the problem, it has to stop! The Mkhondo Traffic Department’s officers are nowhere to be seen at night. They should be out patrolling the streets, handing out fines and ordering the drivers to move the heavy motor vehicles. Why are they not?

The community requests that they please start to enforce the law!