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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Trucks to Durban Harbour queue for days in chaotic traffic gridlock

'Were it not for the staff attitude, we could have been moving quicker.'

To many motorists, mention of Bayhead Road in the south of Durban evokes a frightening experience of being caught up in a long, slow-moving and chaotic traffic gridlock.

But to truck drivers from different parts of sub-Saharan Africa, destined for the Durban Harbour – the second-largest port terminal in Africa after Egypt’s Port Said – the experience means being confined for hours and days to a designated parking area outside the Pier 1 and Pier 2 terminals.

Besides the long queue of trucks, with drivers claiming to have spent up to three days in the waiting area before being allowed to proceed to the loading and offloading zone, there are no shops or showers for the fatigued men after their long and gruelling journey from various African countries to the Port of Durban.

When The Citizen this week visited Bayhead, truck drivers were seething with anger, blaming hold-ups and the tedious process on “inefficient” and “an unprofessional conduct” of Transnet Port Terminals staff.

“I have now been here in the queue for almost 12 hours, while the prescribed waiting time should not exceed five hours, “Were it not for the staff attitude, we could have been moving quicker into the terminal to offload or get our trucks loaded. The problem is that the Transnet staff do not apply themselves to the work they are employed to do, are lazy and inefficient,” charged Ntokozo Ndwandwe.

He added: “Sometimes, we are told that the cranes are not functioning well when there are strong winds. We are informed by the staff that it is risky and cranes become unstable to lift containers when it is windy. All that we are asking for, is to be treated with respect because whenever we get to the terminal office, we find staff playing games or busy on WhatsApp.

“They behave like kings and queens who serve us at their own leisure, as if they are doing us a favour This is abuse of power and position.”

Fanana Maphalane said: “As we do not have access to shops to buy food, the only alternative is the Transnet canteen, situated inside the terminal, which we have no right to use freely. To get food from the canteen, we have to pay an employee R10 extra per food order.”

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC chief executive officer Palesa Phili, said the organisation was “aware of high levels of frustration” within the private sector on the management, operations and functioning of the Port of Durban.

– brians@citizen.co.za

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