The Democratic Alliance will today request an urgent meeting with KZN Transport MEC, Mxolisi Kaunda, in a bid to propose solutions to ongoing accidents involving heavy vehicles on Fields Hill near Pinetown.
The move follows yet another crash involving two trucks on Friday last week which claimed the life of one person. The incident took place at the same intersection, at the base of the Hill, where 24 people died in 2013 after a runaway truck ploughed into them.
The DA extends its deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of the deceased in this latest crash. This latest accident should never have happened.
The DA first raised its concern over Fields Hill in 2005 at both an eThekwini Council and Provincial Legislature level. Regrettably, our unease over this stretch of road was met with disdain by former KZN Transport MEC, Willies Mchunu and his colleagues.
In 2008, the DA tabled a Motion in the KZN Legislature, calling for a complete ban on all heavy vehicles on Field’s Hill. Proposed alternatives to Fields Hill at the time include the building of a toll road near Ashburton, so that heavy vehicles pay their toll fees further up the N3 and don’t divert down Field’s Hill in order to save on toll road fees. Still, nothing happened.
Following 2013’s horror crash the former MEC received conclusive evidence in the form of expert reports that Field’s Hill was not suited to heavy vehicles. At the time, the DA proposed that the KZN Department of Transport test the effect on business communities along the M13 by banning heavy vehicles from Fields Hill for 6 months in order to establish the precise extent and areas of concern that this closure would create and what alternate solutions need to be found. The suggestion was stubbornly ignored and the only measure taken was to set up truck stops during peak hours.
And it is here that the problem lies. There is no point in imposing such restrictions when they are not properly enforced and this is precisely what the DA will raise with the MEC during our forthcoming meeting. The MEC has the power to restrict the use of specific roads to certain vehicles only.
Under DA governance, the Western Cape has used this legislation to reclassify particular roads in that province to restrict the use of heavy vehicles. This makes roads safer, and reduces traffic accidents.
The DA expects MEC Kaunda to honour his mandate which is to ensure that KZN’s roads are safe for all road users and not to ignore Fields Hill like his predecessor did. We also expect him to respond to our request for an urgent meeting and to proactively pursue solutions by engaging with stakeholders and members of the public on this issue.
Fields Hill has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with ensuring the safety of motorists. It is time that the MEC ensured that the law is enforced.