Looking after family

How many people can you fit on the back of a bakkie? Never too many, apparently ...

Is it due to the precarious situation in which we find ourselves as a nation, or are good news and a good attitude just hard to come by at the moment?

This month I wanted to write something light-hearted, really feel-good and smile-inducing. This is in the wake of a circus-like State of the Nation address, a belt-tightening budget speech and the worrying situation in which we find ourselves as a nation with regard to an increasing, and sometimes irrational, play of the race card (yes, I went there).

I just wanted to talk about something positive. The problem is we have so many bigger issues. And I’m not referring to this troublesome trio our beloved South Africa is going to have to overcome in the year ahead – though doing so is, unquestionably, pivotal in our ability to move forward in a society that is becoming increasingly intolerant of such shenanigans.

I’m talking about something a bit closer to home – our home, which is transport. Specifically, too, I’m referring to the people affected by the actions of those in command of the vehicles. These are not the drivers, technicians, cleaners, or those loading the vehicles – but the passengers, who have little knowledge of, or interest in, the vehicles in which they travel.

I could go on here about overloaded city buses that belch plumes of black smoke, and, invariably, break down in the middle of an intersection during peak rush-hour traffic. I won’t, though, because these passengers have the choice to board the next, less- full and more mechanically sound vehicle that comes their way.

Did any of the men in the accompanying picture (11 visible on the back of the bakkie) have such a choice? I doubt it; they just wanted to get to site on time in the morning, and get home conveniently in the evening.

Convenient it may be, but do they give any thought to their safety should the vehicle be involved in an accident? Do their employers give any thought to this, or the implications for themselves and their businesses in such an instance?

Employers have a responsibility to transport their staff safely. In places like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States this is non-negotiable. It’s encouraging, though, that many corporates enforce strict health and safety rules and will not allow contractors on site should they “bus” their workers in on the back of a truck or bakkie, for example. They realise that these people are part of their extended “family”, and that looking after family is good for business.

Happily, there are certain truck buyers who also realise this when considering their transport purchases. That much is clear in the increasing number of double-cab trucks being bought (or converted) for staff transport. I sincerely hope many more follow the lead.

At least that’s a positive(ish) note on which to end this piece …

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