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Vendors cash in on truck drivers' woes

‘I make more other R1,000 profit daily’

Mandla Khoza Freelance journalist
Arlindo Mashele sells drinks to truck drivers. Trucks can wait in a 40km-long queue to the Lebombo border gate on the N4 in Mpumalanga.
Arlindo Mashele sells drinks to truck drivers. Trucks can wait in a 40km-long queue to the Lebombo border gate on the N4 in Mpumalanga.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Street vendors around Komatipoort, Mpumalanga, are making a killing by selling food, water and toilet paper to truck drivers who are stuck in traffic along the N4 highway towards the Lebombo border.

Vendors said pap and meat, water, soft drinks, cigarettes and toilet paper were the most sold items.

A bottle of 500ml water normally sells for R10 or R11. It has been increased to R15. A litre is sold for R25.

A 500ml of soft drinks has been increased by R2. A plate of food – pap, meat with one or two salads is usually sold for R40 but the price has shot up to R70. The price of toilet paper has doubled from R5 to R10.

Justine Ngwenya from Naas, outside Komatipoort, sells water, soft drinks, cigarettes, snacks and biscuits and says with the profits he makes, he is able to buy whatever he needs and feed his three children and wife.

He has been selling along the highway since 2020 when the congestion started and says the traffic has got worse.

“We know the guys need water or anything cold and food since they are stuck here. I moved my business from the stop that I had in town, used some money to buy a bicycle and fitted it with carrier so that I can have a cooler box.

“Since the problem of the trucks started, I have really been living well at home. I buy more and fancy food for my family because my income has increased. It’s hot out here but it’s worth it because when I’m home, I live like a king and eat whatever I want,” said Ngwenya, who lives about 40km away from the border.

He says he takes a bus everyday and leaves his bicycle with a friend who lives close by.

“Prices are a bit more because you travel direct to where they [drivers] are. The longest cycling I take to meet some is about 30km and you find them thirsty and some hungry and they buy so many things. Sometimes I stock up two to three times a day.,” said Ng wenya.

Arlindo Mashele from Orlando informal settlements in Komatipoort said his profits have more than doubled.

“I came here to work for my sister who owns a vegetable business in 2020, I bought a bicycle to go around selling the vegetables but I added drinks and other things which would make me about R400 a day, including profits.

“Since the trucks started spending long time here, I have abandoned my sister's business and I push mine so hard and now I make more other R1,000 profit daily,” said Mashele. - newsdesk@sowetan.co.za

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