Salute to the litter gatherers on our roads

2018-02-16 11:02
Unsung heroes – MJ Todi (left) and Coyote Mathibela along with their Isuzu NPR 400 ensuring that South Africa stays clean for all of us. Salute!

South Africans in general have no clue as to the vital role trucks, their drivers and their assistants play in the functioning of society or the economy. I find this such a pity as it means the good services provided by the trucking industry are never given the recognition they deserve – and there are many such services writes Patrick O’Leary.

Take litter, for example. South Africa is a country whose citizens don’t give two hoots about chucking their rubbish out the windows of their vehicles as they drive along the highways and byways of this country.

My wife and I did an experiment once along the N1. I told her to randomly shout “stop” and took her a bet that wherever she told me to stop, we would find litter alongside the road. We did this about four times before she got gatas with me and said: “No more. C’mon – we’re never going to get home like this.” I was quite enjoying it but, you know what wives are like.

The thing is. I won the bet. Wherever we stopped, we found litter that had been thrown out of vehicles. Bottles, cool-drink cans, baby nappies, chip packets, empty biscuit packets, empty Wimpy packets, polystyrene boxes. You name it. I once found a shoe box alongside to N3 – brand new that had been tossed out a vehicle. I mean, who tries on their new shoes while driving along a highway and then throws the box out?

Someone has to pick all this rubbish up and I doubt if travellers ever even notice the people in the middle of nowhere walking along the sides of roads picking up the litter. They are out there in the heat of summer and cold of winter doing a thankless task but one which plays such an important role in keeping our country clean.

And where does all that litter go from there? Once a bag is full, the litter ‘picker-uppers’ then tie the bags and leave them on the side of the road for the ‘litter truck’ to come along and pick them up and haul them to the dump.

This Isuzu NPR 400 along with its driver Coyote Mathibela and his assistant MJ Godi play a vital role in our society?

This Isuzu NPR 400 along with its driver Coyote Mathibela and his assistant MJ Godi play a vital role in our society?

Last week I noticed one of these trucks driving along the M5 in Johannesburg and followed it for a while. When it stopped at the next litter bag, I pulled over and got out to talk to the two guys. Their names were Coyote Mathibela and MJ Todi – good guys from Mogale City Local Municipality who were driving a good looking Isuzu NPR 400 crew cab with a dropside body.

We had a good chat and a few laughs and I thanked them for the job they were doing urging them to never under-estimate the important role they play in keeping our country looking good. Without them – and if left in the hands of the thousands of inconsiderate and non-caring road users – South Africa would look like a giant trash can. Yuk!

We then shook hands and went our separate ways. As I drove off, I thought that there again was a truck along with its driver and assistant playing a role in our society that is probably not noticed by nine out of ten members of the public. How many more roles do trucks play that are not noticed? Such a pity that the trucking industry gets such little attention.
As for Coyote and MJ, I recall a guy I came across in Savannah in America some years ago when I attended my son’s university graduation ceremony. I was sitting in a park and noticed this guy walking along picking up litter. He looked so enthusiastic that I just had to chat to him. I then did a short video to capture his nature which I am republishing below. What an inspirational guy he was. He was proud of the job he was doing as can Coyote Mathibela and MJ Todi be proud of the job they are dong. FleetWatch salutes the litter gatherers of South Africa!


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