Tsantsabane residents up in arms over hazard posed by “untouchable” mining trucks.
THE CONTINUOUS hazards and traffic jams caused by mining trucks has become a nightmare in the Tsantsabane municipal area, with residents accusing the local authority of turning a blind eye to the issue
Residents have reported that the trucks are “parking everywhere, blocking traffic and making it difficult for other vehicles to use the roads”.
Local community members have also raised concerns about the shortage of traffic officers, who should be controlling the traffic and bringing traffic offenders to book.
It has been claimed that there are only three traffic officers in the Tsantsabane municipal area.
Road users feel that the mining companies have been “untouchable” for many years and that the municipality allows them “to do as they please”.
They questioned why the truck drivers do not make use of the existing truck stops. Some claimed that the drivers do so to evade paying the parking fees, and that the mining companies are aware of the issue.
One resident pointed out that it has become a “useless waste of time” to call the telephone number displayed on the truck when the driver drives carelessly.
The leader of the Safe Tsantsabane Coalition (STC), Michael Mabilo, said that many of the mines that have “cropped up” lately in the area do not comply with the social labour plan (SLP) and are not even known to the municipality, which makes it difficult to monitor the situation.
“The few traffic officers are exploited and cannot handle the pressure of the traffic that grows on a daily basis,” said Mabilo.
“The mining companies only show up when it is Mandela Day and they donate blankets to the municipality, which the mayor will smile for.”
Mabilo said that local political parties are working on a strategy to monitor the trucks and to engage the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMR).
Tsantsabane Local Municipality on Wednesday confirmed that it has been experiencing traffic problems linked to the mining industry, which has expanded rapidly over the past 15 years.
It has been estimated that more than 100 trucks pass through the Postmasburg road network in the direction of Kathu or Kimberley every 2hours.
Municipal spokesperson Joseph Kekgopilwe said that they have experienced a rapid increase in normal and abnormal load truck transportation within the urban edge road network over the past two years.
“This has caused a hazard for both motorists and pedestrians residing in the municipal area,” said Kekgopilwe.
He, however, dismissed the claims that the mining trucks were not regulated.
“The municipality is aware of the problem through normal traffic assessment and there are proposals in place on expanding the local main road and inter-linking road networks.”
Kekgopilwe said that the local authority has been communicating with all the mines within the municipal area to confirm contact details and details of contractors or truck owners, with the objective of creating a platform towards discussing a sustainable solution to the problem.
“This approach has been attempted twice already, but due to poor response from the mining companies the effort has not been effective.
“TLM (Tsantsabane Local Municipality) advertised regarding public-private partnership, inviting interested stakeholders to partner with the municipality to open three truck stops within the Tsantsabane municipal area on the road to Kathu, Kimberley and Griekwastad, with the objective to create a controlled environment for truck transportation within and around the Tsantsabane municipal area.
“The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMR) and the Department of Roads, Transport and Safety have also been invited to help in this regard, but a response is still awaited.
Kekgopilwe also acknowledged that there were capacity issues in regards to traffic officers.
“In the past 3 years we have advertised posts for traffic officers with the objective of increasing the current capacity and also replacing vacant positions in the traffic department, however, the response has not been effective to yield the desired results in terms of the capacity of people required.”
He, however, dismissed claims that there are only three traffic officers in the whole Tsantsabane municipal area.
“In line with the Minerals and Petroleum Resources and Development Act (MPRDA), Tsantsabane Municipality has concluded and made suggestions to a number of mines in relation to the social labour projects (SLP) for development of infrastructure for economic development and community development,” Kekgopilwe added.
“But to date the most effective have been Anglo American Kolomela Mine and Assmang Beeshoek Mine. Other mines have failed dismally to contribute effectively to the SLP commitment, and the help of the DMR is required in this regard.”
He said the municipality does not have accurate stats on the number of mines operating in the municipal area,
“These are some of the issues we need to discuss with the DMR to understand how these mines are regulated and the issue of SLP.