Travelling by bakkies is a way of life

2015-02-02 00:00

IT was the faulty honk coming from a rusty bright blue bakkie that signalled the beginning of yet another school day for me while I was growing up.

I can still remember the old Toyota bakkie that used to hoot outside our house at H2743, in Esikwanini, a township 20 km outside Richards Bay. Come rain or shine, the vehicle would wait outside, roaring and revving the engine, and there was no time to be embarrassed because neither my folks nor our neighbours owned cars. It was this, or a long walk to school.

Throughout my schooling career, even when I joined former model C schools, we still used these forms of transport to get to school and never did it cross my mind that these often unroadworthy vehicles could kill me and my peers.

Last week’s accident in Imbali prompted me to ask my mother why, even when she eventually bought a vehicle, she didn’t take me and my siblings to school herself.

She tells me the blue bakkie cost her R50 a month and it was convenient.

“Safety was the last thing on my mind,” she said. And as shocking as that may sound, it was a way of life for me and my siblings and sadly it’s still the reality of many households.

Khanyisani Dlomo

THE horrific crash in Imbali township brought back memories of when we used to be stuffed in a bakkie without a canopy in the Emakhabeleni area in Greytown.

Our parents did not check the roadworthiness of the vehicle, let alone check if the driver had a driver’s licence or how long the driver had been driving.

The gravel road made things worse. The bakkie would swerve dangerously on rainy days. We would arrive home dusty or wet.

But we didn’t really care about the overload, as long as we arrived early at school, likewise back home. We had no choice because the school was too far and there was no alternative transport available.

Siso Naile

THE Imbali accident draw me back to my primary school days at Baptist school in the Eastern Cape when bakkies were a very common source of transportation back then — between 2000 and 2003.

Bakkies are still dominating in the school transporting system, because they are cheaper than public transport or minivans where one gets to sit in a comfortable seven-seater with air-conditioner, airbags and seat belts. These drivers transported us with unmaintained bakkies which would fail to drive up a hill and arrive late on rainy days because of the engine refusing to start. The bakkie had two full loads to take in the morning and afternoon, and the driver would ensure that the van had enough benches for everyone and music so that he could keep us entertained and forget that we are being overloaded.

Keeping close to the “uncle” who drove us was everyone’s priority because of the arguments of who should take the front seat, even though the front seat wouldn’t have worked in anyone’s favour in the Imbali crash.

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