“The authorities who have a responsibility to maintain discipline, order and road safety on the N4 between Malelane and Nelspruit appear to have totally shirked their responsibility. The purpose of this letter is to bring this to the attention of those responsible to ensure that lives are not lost.
On the 20th July, after leaving Kruger National Park at Crocodile Bridge gate, we began our trip back to Hazyview via Nelspruit. After passing Malelane we came across an electric sign advising that there was Stop and Go ahead and to expect long delays. We had not been aware of this before. After about 3 kilometres, after passing through the toll plaza, we came across traffic stopped in a long queue. It was about 6.30 pm. The tail lights of the stopped vehicles could be seen stretching along the road and up and over a hill. Shortly after we had stopped in the queue we noticed many vehicles passing us, driving down the lane towards any would be on-coming traffic. All these vehicles had their amber direction lights flashing. Then many vehicles ahead of us began pulling out of the lane we were in and joined the vehicles headed up in the down lane. We just waited for the first head-on collision.
After waiting for more than an hour without moving I decided that it would be better to turn around take a detour via Barberton to Nelspruit and then on to Hazyview. It was too frightening to stay in the queue and we had no idea how long the delay would be. Probably half of the vehicles in our queue were bulk carrier trucks. They were very large and long. I got out of my car and spoke to the truck driver behind our vehicle. Johan said that he travelled the route sometimes twice a day and that on occasions the delays were 3 hours and that the practise of drivers driving in the direction of on-coming traffic was a regular occurrence. He agreed that taking the detour via Barberton was a good option. I thought we would not be able to turn around because we would risk a head-on collision with the vehicles with flashing lights. Then a gap appeared in that traffic and I took the opportunity to turn around. With my head-lights on high beam and my amber direction lights flashing I speeded back in the direction of Malelane, avoiding traffic heading down our lane. After about 2 kilometres we had left the nightmare situation behind us.
While driving back towards Malelane we noticed a police station in the dark on our left. There were many police vehicles parked outside the building. But there was no movement or signs that the police were aware of the situation a couple of kilometres down the road. How could that be possible? Could drivers really risk their lives and the lives of other road users in this area?
We took the road to Barberton and eventually arrived safely in Hazyview. The thoughts in the minds of my partner and I were the absence of the road traffic authorities. Why was there no presence of the authorities who promote the Arrive Alive campaign? Where were the authorities who are responsible for that toll road? Why were the police not on the scene? How could the authorities allow mayhem to prevail? How can the Department of Transport promote the Decade of Action for Road Safety and allow these potentially fatal driving practises to carry on without any intervention?
I believe that the motoring public who follow the road rules and hear the pleas from road authorities to drive safely are owed, at the minimum, an explanation for the lack of concern by the road authorities. At the most, the heads of those responsible for maintaining law and order on the roads should appear at a high-level hearing to explain. Some of the points that could be discussed, in addition to those raised above, are:
• Poor planning of the project to ensure the safety of the public.
• Poor signage
• The non-existence of advice/signage about alternative routes.
• There are probably additional points that can be added.
We would like to confirm that this has also been shared with TRACN4 and our friends from Master Builders
For Safety during Road Construction also view: