Disgusting! Shocking! Horrible! Ghastly! Repulsive! There are many more words I could use to describe the entrance for trucks pulling into the BP Ridge Oasis on the south-bound side of the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal – and none of them would do true justice to the despicable condition of the truck entrance as well as the surface around the diesel filling station. And it’s been like this for years writes FleetWatch editor Patrick O’Leary.
In August 2015, I pulled into the BP Ridge Oasis to refuel and get a cup of coffee. As I took the smooth ‘for cars only’ entrance into the fuel station, I glanced left and noticed huge cracks in the concrete and a pool of water that had accumulated in a dip in the ‘trucks only’ entrance.
After filling up, I went to have a closer look and did not like what I saw. The cracks were not just surface. Some of the concrete slabs had subsided thus creating sharp edges over which the trucks had to drive. I posted this on our Facebook page and the comments from truck drivers confirmed that it was nowhere near acceptable. It made them feel like BP did not care for them.
In October 2016, I pulled in again to check what improvements had been made. I was certain that the mess had been fixed. However, nothing had been done – absolutely nothing. In fact, it had got worse and now posed a real danger for tyre damage as trucks had to manoeuvre over even sharper and more exposed concrete edges from the subsiding concrete slabs.
In June 2017 – last month – I popped in again on the way back from a Brake & Tyre Watch exercise to check it out. This time I had my good friend Wolfgang Lehmann, arguably the country’s foremost trailer expert, with me. He was moaning, as usual, about me wanting to stop for ‘things trucking’ instead of heading straight for home. I told him what it was about and that I was sure they would have fixed it. Just wanted to check. Alas. When he saw the condition of the entrance – as well as the surface of the concrete at the diesel filling point – he was shocked, as was I.
“This is disgraceful. They going to bugger up the tyres with this surface,” he said. And yes, it was ‘buggering up tyres’ and a lot more. I had spotted some tyre tread lying among the steel rods originally put in to strengthen the concrete. These rods were now fully exposed. The concrete slabs had also subsided to the point where tyres riding over this section were hitting what in essence was a razor sharp knife edge. The whole place was a disaster and showed scant regard for trucking customers.
After taking a number of photographs, I spoke to one of the petrol attendants over on the car side. He told me that a truck had recently lost its load at the entrance when it fell over by the driver favouring the left side of the entrance to avoid the cracks and sharp edges. The angle of the gradient resulted in the load falling.
I have to ask. What’s this all about BP? Why are you treating your trucking customers as if they are low-life scum at this particular station? It’s situated on one of the busiest trucking routes in the country with thousands of trucks use this road on a daily basis. And when they stop there to fill up, they’re not putting in a couple of litres like the cars do on the ‘plush’ side of this station. The one truck filling up while I was there in 2015 had reached 465,7 litres at a cost of R5369.29. Surely your trucking customers deserve better treatment than this.
There is a saying: “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Well, the first impression to a trucker pulling into this station is one which shouts out: “I don’t care for you. You are not important to me. I’ll take your money but don’t expect me to treat you with respect.”
I could go on and on but I’ll let the pictures below tell the story. One thing I know for sure is that if I were operating trucks along this route, I would never pull into the BP Ridge Oasis to fill up – or even buy a Coke. Not until BP showed some respect towards me as an operator as well as towards my drivers by fixing that dangerous, tyre chewing entrance of theirs.
What about it BP?