War on overloaded vehicles
Overloaded vehicles travelling to Mozambique on the N4 highway are cause for grave concern.
Officials say the vehicles are normally overloaded with either passengers or goods and are a common sight along the N4 highway from Pretoria in Gauteng to the Lebombo border post into Mozambique.
Overloaded buses and minibuses pulling overloaded trailers are a headache for Mpumalanga traffic officers.
The provincial department of roads and transport had to reschedule its time table for traffic officers so that they could keep an eye on the provincial roads, especially the N4 highway, on a 24-hour basis.
According to provincial department spokesman David Nkambule traffic cops only worked the roads during the day but this changed during the launch of last year's Arrive Alive Campaign.
The then MEC for roads and transport, David Mabuza, launched a traffic cop patrol unit that would operate around the clock to take action against motorists who broke the law.
"This became necessary because most of those drivers who overloaded their vehicles usually took advantage of travelling at night because they knew no traffic cops operated at that time," Nkambule said yesterday.
Twenty-two people, including young children, died when the minibus they were travelling in last August was involved in an accident and everybody on board died when the vehicle caught fire.
In another incident a minibus taxi driver recently burnt to death after he lost control of the overloaded vehicle while travelling on the N4 highway about 5km east of Nelspruit.
The passengers escaped certain death when they jumped out of the burning vehicle, but most of them sustained serious injuries and later said the vehicle was carrying petrol in a number of 20-litre containers.
"Despite these horror stories, drivers travelling to Mozambique continue to overload their vehicles and we are coming out in full force to warn them that we are not going to show them any mercy," Nkambule said.
Sowetan caught up with one of the overloaded minibus taxis travelling along the N4 highway towards Mozambique yesterday.
The vehicle was forced to stop after one of the tyres on the trailer was punctured between Nelspruit and Malelane and traffic cops fined the driver for overloading.
Nkambule said this was in line with the provincial road and transport department's Sivuth' Umlilo campaign with the slogan "Obey the rules or face the fire".