It gets lonely on lockdown road

Truck driver Colbert Netsianda has not seen his family since the lockdown began in March.
Truck driver Colbert Netsianda has not seen his family since the lockdown began in March.
Image: PETER RAMOTHWALA

Truck driver Colbert Netsianda has not seen his family since the lockdown began on March 27.

Netsianda, a Coca-Cola employee, has been on the road since then, making it difficult for him to see his family in Thohoyandou, Limpopo.

"I miss my family a lot though I call them every day to check on their wellbeing. You know it's better when you seen them in person," he said.

Netsianda said he had been driving across Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng as he delivered soft drinks.

"I'm here in Limpopo now and I will be going to either Mpumalanga or Gauteng soon. I'm used to driving long distances and I'm happy that my employer has made sure that all safety measures with regard to Covid-19 are in place," he said.

The father of 10 told Sowetan he always put on his mask and carries a sanitiser with him as he travels.

Netsianda said he used to visit his family every week but that has become a thing of the past.

Another truck driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said he transported farmworkers and he was not allowed to leave his workplace.

"I only leave when its month end to accompany farmworkers to buy food. They told us if we go home, we will not be allowed to return to work."

The driver, who works at a well-known local fresh produce farm, said since the lockdown began, he has not been able to visit his wife and three children in Sekgosese, Limpopo.

"I told my family that I don't know when they would see me because we don't know when the lockdown will be lifted," he said.

"As you see me parked here, there is someone watching me, making sure that I don't get out of this truck and mix with other people. If I contravene lockdown regulations, I will get fired."

Kenneth Setati, a truck driver at Vector Logistics, said he has told his family not to touch him anymore due to coronavirus. "When I get home, I wash first and it's hard for my family," he said.

Setati said he had been receiving persistent questions about his latest behaviour from his son.

"My son asks me, 'why don't you want to hug me?'."

On conditions he faced on the road, he said: "It is a lot easier for me to drive and I am able to deliver [frozen food] quicker because there is no traffic at all."

But, there are challenges.

"There are no prepared foods in the stores, so often we have to go without eating or we just eat bread," he said.

"When your stomach is empty, it is difficult for your mind to function. Many public toilets, which were previously open, are also now closed."

His company has been supplying all its drivers with gloves, masks and hand sanitisers.

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