In a desperate plea on social media, the residents of Richards Bay are calling for trucks not to get beyond Ermelo en route to Richards Bay so that the backlog of trucks can be cleared and a more structured plan can be put in place for transporting and offloading the coal by up to 1 800 trucks a day.
To try to establish the extent of the problem of the lengthening queues of coal tipper trucks stuck at the Port of Richards Bay, a drone is being used for constant footage to enable locals to monitor it. The problem now being referred to as “explosive”.
This ongoing malaise, caused by too many trucks being used to haul coal to the Port of Richards Bay by road, has set social media alight with residents’ complaints. Some foresee the total demise of the town, which is part of the Umhlatuzi region. The Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), an independent
entity, is one of the largest in the world.
Tempers are flaring within the ranks of the residents, who have threatened to impose their own blockage to stop trucks. Even the drivers are becoming fed up with the snarl-ups, which can immobilise them for days as they wait for permission to access the port to deliver coal for export.
Drones are already being used to try to secure the dedicated coal line, which is designed to deliver coal to the RBCT from Mpumalanga coal regions, as it is victim to stoppages, theft and even sabotage, which has reduced its carrying capacity and forced coal companies to revert to road transport delivery, which was never envisaged for Richards Bay.
Trucks are backed up to the N2 highway and at the weekend the port did not call for any trucks to try to clear the national road, which led to the explosive situation that developed, according to social media posts.
There is an element of sympathy expressed for the hapless drivers caught in this mess.
“One can understand the truck drivers’ mood. If I was to get paid by the load and I cannot offload, having to wait hours and sometimes days on a highway, I would lose it as well. The solution is to stop the problem at the source before they leave the coal mines,” said one post.