Meet the woman who manages one of the busiest toll plazas on the N3

Itumeleng Mokoena oversees the smooth running of the De Hoek toll gate

Itumeleng Mokoena
Image: Supplied/N3TC

For millions of South Africans, the festive season is all about resting and holidays, but for Itumeleng Mokoena, this period is her busiest.

The 34-year-old manages one of the busiest toll gates on the N3, Heidelberg’s De Hoek, which sees scores of people passing through on their way to live their best lives on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

Now, as people head home following a busy festive season, her job becomes even busier.

Mokoena’s role is to oversee the smooth running of the entire plaza, ensuring motorists spend as little time as possible at the toll gate.

“I am responsible for everything that happens at the plaza, including safety of staff, banking, human resources and communications,” says Mokoena.

“As plaza manager you must be all over. In my opinion, a plaza manager shouldn’t just sit in an office and think that things are just going to happen. You must be all over, making sure that people are doing whatever they are supposed to be doing. I only have one hour 30 minutes in my office, and that’s when I plan for the day.”

Born in Villiers, Free State, Mokoena has been working at the toll plaza for nine years. Starting as a toll collector, her work ethic has seen her rise through the ranks to become a manager in just less than a decade.

She is now responsible for various departments, including maintenance, finance and managing staff in the same toll-collecting booths where she started.

Discussing finances, Mokoena says: “As a manager, it’s not easy for you to sit back and wait for someone to tell you if the books are balancing... When I get to the plaza after planning my day, I go and check how much we are expecting in terms of roll-ups when it comes to credit cards so that the balance that I had in the morning coincides with the one at the end of the day.”

She believes in checking the financials daily, instead of waiting for month-end: “It’s going to give you challenges, so you must monitor them daily, within that 24-hour period. It gets easier and things get to be corrected on time.”

Mokoena and the De Hoek staff follow a strict plan to avert bumper traffic at their plaza.

“For every peak period that we approach, like the festive season, we have plans which include manning of lanes on specific days. On our plan we have divided the days into three: A,B and C. A-day means it is extremely busy on the road, which means we must open all the lanes we have.”

The plans also include the possibility of power failures, when tolls are collected manually should the generator be faulty.

“Power failure will delay the process because we’ll have to do everything manually, but we’ve got qualified, trained staff that know what to do when there’s a total power failure.

“We are hoping that there is no load-shedding during this period, but we have our backups, we have generators.”

Although she initially wanted to be in the Information Technology (IT) industry, Mokoena enjoys her job because there is an element of IT to it.

“My passion after matric was in IT. I just loved everything to do with computers... As a plaza manager, you are exposed to... in-depth software and systems that the tolling industry uses.”

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This article was paid for by N3 Toll Concession.

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