16-ton limit on Field’s Hill

2013-11-29 00:00

ONLY trucks with 16-ton carrying capacity will be allowed to travel on the M13 near Pinetown as part of a short-term intervention announced by KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department.

The trucks will, however, be restricted from passing on the road between 6 am to 9 am on the eastbound carriageway. In the afternoon restrictions will apply between 4 pm and 6.30 pm.

MEC Willies Mchunu said as part of the imm­ediate intervention on Field’s Hill, a compulsory stop for trucks at the top of the Field’s Hill would be monitored by electronic surveill­ance technology and law enforcement would be stepped up.

He released an executive statement yesterday, following the accident involving a truck and other vehicles on September 5 that claimed 24 lives.

After the accident, the department instituted an investigation into measures to improve road safety on Field’s Hill amid calls by some groups that trucks be banned altogether.

Mchunu said the restrictions on trucks were based on reports prepared by his department and the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

He said stakeholders were consulted to gauge their views on banning heavy trucks on Field’s Hill. Among those consulted were the Transport Department, eThekwini Municipality, Field’s Hill Concerned group, the freight industry and business.

“It was evident speed and inexperience of the driver were contributory factors to the accident,” Mchunu told the provincial legislature.

He also announced long-term measures, including adding an extra lane in the easterly direction and construction of concrete barriers.

Street lighting, construction of a pedestrian bridge near the interchange at the bottom of the hill and improving the ramps on the M13 are also planned.

Mchunu also said the freight strategy for eThekwini Metro and the corridor needed to be developed. This could include a weighbridge at the harbour, suitable park-off areas near the harbour for truckers and truck stops.

He insisted a total ban was impossible because there were companies that used trucks for delivery of goods in the local area.

Asked if action would be taken against owners of the truck that caused the accident on September 5, Mchunu said his department did not charge people. “Those who deal with law enforcement and prosecution will deal with those matters,” he said.

His executive statement drew mixed reaction from parties in KZN’s legislature.

IFP’s Lindani Mncwango bemoaned the absence of a cost breakdown.

DA’s Radley Keys said the department should rather limit the carrying capacity of heavy trucks on Field’s Hill to five tons.

ANC’s Linda Hlongwa-Madlala called for cargo to go “back onto the rail”, while Cope’s Lucky Gabela called for visibility of traffic officers and tough action against offenders.

ACDP’s Jo-Ann Downs asked that the department have a toll-free line to report bad road users and emphasised the need for use of rail.

KZN mec for transport was warned about field’s hill danger

IF warnings as far back as 2009 about the dangerous situation on Field’s Hill were heeded, the tragic loss of lives could have possibly been avoided.

So says former Pinetown DA ward councillor Warwick Chapman, who together with officials from the KZN Department of Transport and business people, has been campaigning to stop heavy vehicles on the M13/Field’s Hill due to the number of accidents on the road.

The Field’s Hill committee drafted a “recommendation to restrict the use of M13/Field’s Hill by heavy vehicles” which they say they sent to KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu’s office.

Its recommendations include:

• A restriction limiting vehicles to 16 tons Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) on both carriageways of the M13 between the Kassier Road bridge at M13 in the west and Richmond Road.

• Reducing the speed limit on Field’s Hill from 80 km/h to 60 km/h. The report found that the speed differentials in both uphill and downhill directions are frequent causes of accidents.

Chapman, who was in the forefront of calls to bar from Field’s Hill, told The Witness yesterday it would have been better if Mchunu had read the report when it was first sent to him years back, before so many people were killed.

“Field’s Hill was never designed for trucks and we’ve warned about this,” Chapman said.

Chairperson of Beier Safety Footwear, Hans Beier, has also been calling for intervention for years now.

He said the interim restrictions will not solve the problem if not policed properly. “It’s a waste of time because at the end of the day police are not going to sit at the bottom of Field’s Hill to check the trucks.”

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