Two road workers killed by trucks

2010-03-10 00:00

AFTER seeing their colleague being killed by a truck, workers at the road-surfacing project on the N3 near Town Hill were ordered back to work by their employer, a decision that proved fatal when another truck ploughed through the site and killed another worker two hours later.

Amos Lungwane (41) and M.G. Shezi (30), who were working night shift on Monday night for Phambili Road Surfacing, were killed when two trucks smashed into the construction site. The driver of the second truck, Namibian national Norenzo Descande, was also killed.

According to reports, the first accident happened at about midnight when the driver of an articulated truck carrying plastic piping lost control of his vehicle and rammed into the roadworks. The truck struck Shezi, killing him at the scene.

After the accident, the workers were ordered to resume work. At the time the police were still busy clearing the scene.

At about 3 am yesterday, the second truck, driven by Descande, veered into the construction site. It slammed into the stationary truck and knocked down Lungwane, who died later in hospital. One of the employees was also seriously injured on the leg as he jumped from a tyre roller when he saw the truck heading for them.

He was taken to hospital in a serious condition, along with other injured employees.

A construction worker who did not wish to be named said they were surprised when they were ordered back to work after the first accident. “After the guy was killed, they told us to go back to work, and the second accident happened and more workers were injured.”

By 9 am yesterday morning, the night shift workers were still at the scene. They said they had been on the construction site the whole night and had not eaten.

The accident resulted in the closure of the freeway to all light motor vehicles, which were diverted near the Cedara turn-off. Trucks were stacked from Town Hill to the Cedara turn-off.

Phambili Road Surfacing was not available for comment.

Rajen Chinaboo of the Road Traffic Inspectorate said: “The moment that accident happened, the company should have shut down all their operations in the area.”

He said permission for the company to do construction at night was given on condition that safety measures are implemented.

Gunyaziwe Makaula, SA National Roads Agency Limited’s executive regional manager for the eastern region, said the organisation was saddened to hear about the accident. He said the agency’s interim probe indicated that the contractor had all the required traffic accommodation measures in place to safeguard its staff and motorists.

Police Director Phindile Radebe said the police are investigating three cases of culpable homicide.

Zet Luzipho, secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions in KwaZulu-Natal, criticised the company’s decision to continue working after the first accident occurred. The Witness had had reports from recent users of the N3 that the area under construction is hazardous and confusing, even in fine weather. A driver reported that the way the traffic is channelled around the roadworks is problematic as the space for vehicles to pass through is too narrow.

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