protests over road accidents

FED-UP residents on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast yesterday morning blocked the R102 with burning tyres in protest against road accidents caused by motorists avoiding toll roads.

FED-UP residents on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast yesterday morning blocked the R102 with burning tyres in protest against road accidents caused by motorists avoiding toll roads.

Ntshawini residents in KwaDukuza pelted police vans with stones and bricks and police retaliated by firing rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse the angry crowd.

The police arrested more than 10 protesters but later released them.

The residents were complaining about the many deaths and injuries on the road as speeding motorists and truckers divert through the area to escape paying toll fees.

They said a person is hit by a speeding car or truck almost daily.

Community leader Mzonjani Zulu said this had been going on for almost eight years now.

"We have written several letters to the municipality and held a series of meetings.

"Many people have died and others are now permanently crippled or are on crutches because of the accidents experienced on this road," Zulu said.

He said they had been begging the authorities to build pedestrian bridges as well as road humps to no avail. The last straw was the accidents that happened last week and on Sunday.

"On Saturday three people who had been killed on this road were buried and on Sunday a mother and her daughter were killed, forcing the community to react.

"The situation is so bad that a decomposed body was found on the side of the road on January 31 but, to be honest, this was just one of many bodies that are recovered almost daily from this road," Zulu said.

KwaDukuza municipality mayor Thulani Khuluse acknowledged that he was aware of the problem and had forwarded the community's grievances to the right authorities.

"The road is under the provincial department of transport and this was corresponded to them," Khumalo said.

Mxolisi Kaunda, chairperson of the transport portfolio committee in the provincial legislature, promised that the complaints would be followed up immediately.

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