3 minute read

Traffic | 20-minute journey takes more than an hour

By Shorné Bennie

Whatever the reason, traffic is a nightmare and something needs to be done about the traffic situation that we find ourselves in.


I’ve been driving for the last five years and I would like to think that I have gained sufficient experience.
I still feel a certain consolation when I am familiar with a route and what potholes it has to offer.

I feel that traffic in our city has worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic, both in the mornings and afternoons. Perhaps I became comfortable driving around deserted roads during the lockdown or maybe people are feeling more comfortable travelling alone, as opposed to carpooling and using taxis.

Whatever the reason, traffic is a nightmare and something needs to be done about the traffic situation that we find ourselves in.

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One morning, as I left for work, I already knew that there was an incident where a truck lost its load on the N3. I knew I needed to leave home for work to be there by 8.15 am. If I left at 7.20 am, I would get to the office on time and even make some tea before the morning diary meeting.

As I met the traffic just after the Chota Motala and Bambatha Road intersection, it was moving at snails pace. It was the usual — load shedding coupled with the delay on the N3.

We make allowances for the taxis that stop midway before the traffic lights or move and hoot, trying to get passengers or leave them at the unofficial stops along the way. I hadn’t moved an inch for the last 10 minutes.

Then, as I crossed the intersection, I heard this weird dragging sound, almost like a low humming, but a distressing noise. I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a heavily-laden truck behind me.

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We moved along and got to the point where traffic was starting to move downhill. Every few minutes I could hear this weird humming noise. I knew it was the sound of its brakes.

It sounded awful. There was no way to get out. I was boxed in by traffic. The truck was obviously under more pressure on the incline, with its load pushing forward and waiting on this incline. There was so much to concentrate on, with the ton of traffic in front of me.

Another motorist was asking for a gap and I was trying to avoid the beggar who moves from side to side. The taxis were causing mayhem at the non-working traffic lights and then there was that truck behind me, with its weird, haunting noise.

I lost concentration for a second and didn’t move along. The truck got me in line with its hooting. I pacify myself, knowing that the heavily-laden truck will no longer be behind me as I changed lanes to get onto the Chota Motala interchange and I didn’t have to deal with the crying of those brakes.

Where are the traffic cops in this confusion?

There were so many things running through my head. What if there is an accident? While we are going off to various destinations for work, shouldn’t they also be at work, at the intersections to ensure law enforcement?

Eventually we moved along. I got to the highway. I look at the time and it is 8.25 am. I have spent an hour in traffic for a journey that should only be 20minutes. It takes that long!

What’s even worse is the thought of the traffic after work again, before getting home. You have to know all the routes to get out of that.

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There is a level of patience that we have all learnt because of the traffic we have to deal with. Where are the traffic cops? Why do we have non-working traffic lights?

I have found myself treating all traffic lights like a four-way stop because of the number of robots turned in the wrong direction.

Can someone responsible help us solve Pietermaritzburg’s traffic issue?