Taxi marshals help restore order on N4 towards Lebombo border

The traffic gridlocks on the N4 towards the Lebombo border appeared to have eased when some taxi marshals began patrols along the route.

The Lebombo Taxi Association, in collaboration with the Maputo Corridor Transport Logistics, has reportedly managed to restore law and order on the N4 towards the Lebombo border to Mozambique in Mpumalanga in less than a week.

“The taxi marshals’ involvement and efficiency in handling the truck traffic is a sign that it can be done and an indication of the government’s failure,” said the Komatipoort Business Chamber’s (KBC) chairperson, Jan Engelbrecht.

“The state has failed the community, the border post users, the international trade and visitors and commuters to date. The marshals’ efficiency demonstrates to the shame of the state that the misbehaviour of transgressing tipper truck drivers can be controlled. The consequence of inadequate traffic policing often for the past six months has led to a severe gridlock. Komatipoort often could not be accessed at all. People would get to work and school very late. Our economy took a dip of around 25% as a consequence of this.”

“The chamber has begged the government to increase traffic policing for over two years. We petitioned the Mpumalanga Disaster Management Centre for military support provision, but our efforts fell on deaf ears. The community as a whole, not limited to Komatipoort, are thankful for the relief the marshals have brought so quickly. Their efforts are shaming the government and greatly save our town and roads, and are restoring an economy,” said Engelbrecht.

According to the taxi marshals, the last straw was during the congestion on the weekend of June 24.

“An extensive 24-hour patrol of the N4, ensuring that the truck drivers do not cut corners, and constantly reminding them to stay in the truck lane, is all it took for the marshals to get the work done,” said the chairperson of the Lebombo Taxi Association, Macabane Nkalanga.

“We have endured so much because of the frequent chaos at this border, and it was about time we stood up and somehow get the work done. It took us about 10 hours to clear the congestion that happened on the weekend, but eventually, we managed to get it done. We have made a promise to ourselves that we would never allow it to accumulate to that level again and have been working tirelessly since that day to make sure that the N4 is running smoothly again. We have not had any issues of crime since then, and anyone can access the town as and when they please,” said Macabane.

“We faced a level of resistance at first, but I am happy to say the drivers are now respecting the rules and we are all working together to keep the traffic flowing smoothly.

“We work for 24 hours and we will not rest until law and order are fully restored. We also have some of our colleagues from Johannesburg who sleep in lodges while we are here. Everything is done by us out of our own pockets. The community of Komatipoort is impressed with our contribution, and in return, they have set up an account that will help us with food and the things we will need to keep going. We appreciate the support. It takes the efforts of the entire community to make it happen,” said Macabane.

Some of the truck drivers have welcomed this move by the taxi marshals and say it will make things easier for them.

“It’s not every truck driver who cuts the line, and the implications are even deeper than they may seem,” said one driver who wished not to be named.

“This is our town and we are taking back control. We are risking our lives every day, but we know that it is worth it. We will not stop until law and order are restored in Komatipoort,” said Mfundo Shongwe of the Komati Community Marshals.

The KBC said the taxi marshals’ involvement and efficiency in handling the truck traffic is a sign that it can be done and an indication of the government’s failure.

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