The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Sipho Hlomuka, appeals to the community of Zululand to work with government and allow the movement of tipper trucks on the N2 in Phongolo without any intimidation.

MEC Hlomuka has been alerted that the community in Phongolo are continuing to be mobilized to ban the movement of trucks, mainly the heavy-duty vehicles transporting coal following a truck accident that claimed 20 lives in September 2022.

The ongoing blockading of trucks by community members in Phongola is now causing severe traffic congestion on the R34/R66 which is increasing the risk of more accidents. In addition, the increased truck volume on the R36/R66 is damaging the road infrastructure, which is not built to endure heavy vehicles. The N2 Phongolo is the main road designed to handle such heavy vehicles and is a strategic route for trucks to utilise as its connecting provinces with other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. The continuous blockading of trucks on N2 also has a potential to lead to an economic crisis for the province and country.

Following the extensive engagements in Phongolo with all stakeholders by departmental officials, which ended with a visit by the Premier of the province Nomusa Dube-Ncube and MEC Hlomuka, government believes that there is no further justification for the community to continue blockading this strategic N2 route.

The plans agreed to by government and the community of Phongolo of which some have already been implemented include the opening of a satellite Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) station, deployment of RTI personnel and resources, and improving the visibility by the South African Police Services (SAPS).

Government is also in the process of improving signage on the N2 and installing speed calming measures.

“Whilst we acknowledge the devastation these trucks have caused to the community of Phongolo, we once again make a strong appeal to the community to open up the N2. The opening of the road is being supported by the bold plans we have started to implement working with the various stakeholders and the community of Phongolo. If the situation continues, the economy of the province and the country will be adversely affected. The traveling of trucks on R34/R66 is not sustainable since that road is not designed for heavy vehicles. The community must also refrain from activities that will put them in conflict with the law enforcement agencies,” appealed MEC Hlomuka.

MEC Hlomuka further mentioned that police are improving their deployments to monitor the situation in the area following the ongoing, sporadic threats and stoning of vehicles. There are also messages that have been making rounds on social media.

Government will continue to engage with various stakeholders and the community of uPhongolo to monitor the implementation of the interventions in place and to find long lasting solutions.