The illegal parking of trucks on the vacant piece of land at the corner of Basil February (Duranta Rd), and Lansdowne Road, including Tara Road has become a thorn in the proverbial flesh of the Merebank and Wentworth residents.
While it may not seem that off-road driving has negative impacts on the environment, especially on the soil and vegetation, the risk of damage is real. It is not an ecologically sustainable practice and should therefore not be allowed. Increased soil erosion, damage to vegetation and habitat destruction are just some of the visible negative impacts caused by commercial trucks.
The congestion caused by these heavy trucks while parking is interrelated since street parking consumes transport capacity, removing one or two lanes for circulation along the road. Further, looking for a parking space, or cruising, creates additional delays and impairs local traffic circulation. Sometimes, drivers can spend up to 20 minutes looking for a parking spot. This impairs traffic flow as many delivery vehicles double-park at the closest possible spot to load their cargo.
Councillor Aubrey Snyman recalls; ” The patch of land in Lansdowne Road used to be a beautiful idyllic garden. After construction and work carried out on that site, it was never restored to its former glory, so it initially became an illegal taxi rank before these trucks bound for Engen took it upon themselves to park there. As their point of despatch is in Amanzimtoti, they are using the spaces in Lansdowne and Tara Roads as a shortcut. Parking of these heavy or long vehicle on the road obstructs the view of drivers and creates a hazard for motorists and pedestrians, as well as causing damage to a road that is not designed for heavy vehicles”
Councillor Snyman has had several calls of concern from the community in this regard.
Jeff Willard who lives at the corner of Dromedaris, and Alabama Roads, and a few metres across the street from Engen, said; “When it comes to the illegal parking of these trucks, we see an appalling absence of discipline. Most drivers remain blissfully ignorant of parking rules and regulations and have no qualms about blocking access of other vehicles with haphazard parking. An increasing number of vehicles in these areas and a lack of parking space spells disaster for traffic management. Both pedestrians and commuters are inconvenienced with the persistent noise and air pollution. Especially when no traffic police personnel are deployed, while this busy road is sometimes choked for hours”
David Russon, trustee of Duranta Mansions body corporate, expressed; “The presence of sex workers in Lansdowne Road together with the drug abuse offends some residents’ moral standards. Prostitution is a nuisance to passersby and to nearby residents and businesses. Prostitutes and clients offend uninvolved people in the area when they solicit them. They are bad role models to juveniles, less capable of making informed choices. Further, there have been Incidents of Illegal dumping of waste, eg. oil, furniture, appliances, trash, litter and landscaping cuttings, and so forth”
Allan Holmes, of the SDBCT, and resident of Lansdowne Mansions which is located a few meters away from the illegally parked trucks, together with fellow residents, Nigel and Leon Miller voiced their concerns about the noise and air pollution caused by these trucks for the last few years. Further, the parking of long distance trucks in this space has encouraged prostitution and vagrancy, which has a most visible negative impact on the community.
Allan Holmes explained; “A loaded truck generally carries fuel with a maximum potential charge equivalent to TNT–enough to level several homes in close proximity. These trucks remain a serious potential menace;
With a high top and narrow wheelbase, scores of tankers roll over in serious accidents every year.
Tankers traveling too fast around a curve are disasters waiting to happen.
Tankers are especially vulnerable to the unexpected. The few seconds following a blown tyre or brake failure can turn into life-and-death dramas. Thin aluminum tanks are readily punctured in accidents. A tanker pulling a trailer can be hard to control in an emergency”
Frank Alexander, Resident,Trade Unionist, Community Activist And Trustee of South Durban Basin Community Development Trust, asserted; “This is now long overdue that our community is suffering at the hands of Engen regarding these trucks.
We are grateful that there now is some form of National attention on what Engen has been doing to us for decades.
The time has come for them to be held responsible and accountable.
Their onslaught on the community is from all angles and has been relentless. Pollution,Trucking, (oil Spills) on Duranta Road (Basil February), poor health as a direct consequence of poor air quality, no accountability”
Video footage of congestion in Lansdowne Road: click on the link:
On reaching out to Engen for a response regarding the above community concerns, they failed to respond.
In an age of deteriorating highway infrastructure, exhaust pollution, traffic flow impediment, and declining budgets for road upgrades and repairs, some would say, the sensible thing to do in order to lengthen the lifespan of our roadways, and to improve the quality of life for motorists and pedestrians, would be to shift even more cargo transport from truck to rail.
By: Lorraine Richards