One-per­son cars the prob­lem

Fleet op­er­a­tors say too many cars car­ry­ing too few peo­ple cause con­ges­tion, not slow trucks

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

BAN­NING trucks on roads dur­ing peak hours will not im­prove road safety or lessen con­ges­tion — quite the con­trary.

Ban­ning big trucks will sim­ply see more, smaller trucks de­ployed to get loads de­liv­ered, which will lead to more con­ges­tion, more crashes and higher costs to the con­sumer.

This was the re­ac­tion of a panel of speak­ers dur­ing the TruckX con­fer­ence held in Sand­ton last Thurs­day of pro­posed leg­is­la­tion to re­move trucks over eight tons from public roads dur­ing morn­ing and af­ter­noon peak hours.

Speak­ing to Wheels af­ter the con­fer­ence, Ri­cardo Coet­zee, man­ag­ing ex­ec­u­tive: Automotive, In­no­va­tion Group, said the gov­ern­ment is on the right track to start mak­ing roads safer by at­tempt­ing to lessen con­ges­tion, but the fo­cus should be on re­duc­ing the num­ber of cars with just per­son in it.

He ad­mit­ted that it is a com­plex process that needs a holis­tic ap­proach, but pointed out that other con­gested cities in the world have shown how it can be done, with so­lu­tions rang­ing from public trans­port that is faster and eas­ier than a car in traf­fic, to open­ing bus lanes to cars with four peo­ple, and chang­ing the times peo­ple go to work and school.

MD of the Uni­trans Cus­tomer So­lu­tion De­vel­op­ment Di­vi­sion, Ray Singh, said as it stands, the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would put a huge strain on ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture, as there is al­ready no space to park trucks on most routes.

Singh said the pro­posed ban­ning of trucks dur­ing peak hours would raise costs by 12,5% to 25%.

“This fi­nan­cial im­pact through the value chain was not thought through at all,” said Singh.

Head of Ve­hi­cle and As­set Fi­nance Busi­ness at Stan­dard Bank, Toni Fritz, said park­ing big trucks dur­ing peak hours will re­quire more de­pots, more staff and more diesel or elec­tric­ity to run re­frig­er­a­tor units.

MD of Ctrack’s Fleet Man­age­ment Di­vi­sion Hein Jordt, said the num­ber of truck hi­jack­ings has in­creased ex­po­nen­tially in the past few months, and adding more trucks to the roads will in­crease this crime statis­tic.

Otto Swanepoel, a truck op­er­a­tor who de­liv­ers ab­nor­mal loads, said his busi­ness is al­ready not per­mit­ted to op­er­ate on week­ends, public hol­i­days or at night, and he will have to close if he has to stop dur­ing peak hours as well.

Swanepoel took is­sue with the in­dus­try’s blank ac­cep­tance that trucks are re­spon­si­ble for crashes.

“Trucks are not the guilty party caus­ing ac­ci­dents in South Africa, it is the taxi driv­ers, the pedes­tri­ans and car driv­ers. We see it daily be­tween Al­ber­ton and Pre­to­ria,” said Swanepoel.

He in­vited Carte Blanche to send a cam­era crew with his trucks to record just how badly car driv­ers be­have dur­ing peak-hour traf­fic, an in­vi­ta­tion the pro­duc­ers ac­cepted gladly.

Sa­muel Makhathini, a for­mer fuel truck driver said trucks do not con­gest the roads, as the smooth flow on South Africa’s busiest high­way, the N3, shows.

“For 22 hours a day, there are more trucks on the N3 than cars and on av­er­age they main­tain a slow but con­stant flow. Too of­ten it is when a too-fast car col­lides with a truck that the road gets blocked.

“Pri­vate driv­ers need to leave their rage at home if we are to bring down our death toll on the roads,” said Makhathini.

SA­MUEL MAKHATHINI,

for­mer fuel truck driver ‘Pri­vate driv­ers need to leave their rage at home if we are to bring down our death toll on the roads.’

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