Tuesday, August 1, 2023

It can take days for truckers to cross from South Africa to Mozambique, so drivers are preyed on by bandits

(Mentioned in a Bloomberg's Next Africa newsletter today, which said the problems have been exacerbated by Russian coal being diverted to Africa, here's a non-paywalled link) 


The only urgency noticeable at night, when traffic officials withdraw because they don’t get paid overtime and only a handful of police remain to guard the peace, if not collecting bribes, comes from thugs exploiting drivers camping out in their trucks, often for two days or more.

Because of the chaos at night, when tipper trucks skip the queue, congesting the N4 closer to the border gate, it has hardly come as a surprise that taxi associations have become involved because of the threat a closed road poses to their bottom line.

Dressed in reflective vests and armed with sjamboks, they take no bullsh*t, to be very frank about it.

If drivers step out of line, they are forced to turn their trucks around to the back of the queue, a total pressure-cooker situation if you work for a transporter supplementing low pay with incentives paid per load.

To warn drivers against unruly behaviour, taxi marshals drive up and down the queue with a speaker system mounted on the back of a pickup, broadcasting their message of “skip the queue and suffer the consequences”.