Quick-thinking truck driver averts N3 chaos

2013-01-30 00:00

QUICK thinking by an experienced truck driver yesterday saved his truck from serious damage and prevented the possible closure of the N3.

Jabulani Ngubane (49) noticed smoke coming from his trailer’s brakes as he entered Pietermaritzburg just after midnight on Monday.

He has been driving trucks for more than a decade and realised he was facing a driver’s worst nightmare: no brakes as the hydraulic pipes start to melt, with the wind fanning the flames and threatening to ignite the load. He did not want to stop in the narrow emergency lane on the highway, because that is where passing trucks most often clip, or even rear-end stationary trucks.

Using his gears to slow down on the incline, he steered his smoking trailer on to the Ohrtmann Road offramp and managed to stop it in a well-lit area across from a filling station in Echo Road.

“I jumped out to uncouple the horse and when I had moved it away from the smoking trailer, I ran across the road to ask [the petrol pump attendants] to call the fire department,” said Ngubane.

Salim Ral, who captured how the smoke grew into a blaze on his cellphone, said Msunduzi fire and rescue trucks arrived in minutes and quickly doused the flames.

Craig February, divisional officer at Msunduzi Fire and Rescue, said the fire was caused by overheating of the rear brakes.

As police officers looked on, the fire-fighters broke the lock of the container to check that the contents were safe.

“Fortunately, the fire did not penetrate the container, but we have to open it to check that no hazardous material is smouldering,” explained February.

Tyron Munisamy, owner of the truck, praised Ngubane for his quick thinking and safe driving.

“The damage is some R10 000, only a few pipes and tyres,” he said.

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