Highway Heroes

Truck and bus drivers are the unsung heroes on the highways and byways of South Africa. They play an instrumental role in connecting people with their wares, ensuring the efficient transport of merchandise and keeping our economy going.

Hollard’s annual Highway Heroes competition aims to shine a spotlight on these unsung heroes. This year, for the first time, the competition is open to drivers of all truck and bus fleets – not only those affiliated with Hollard. The competition is fierce as it enters the first monitoring phase: this is where truck and bus drivers are assessed on speeding, harsh braking, day and night excessive driving, and distances travelled. Safe, responsible driving is the ultimate focus – and reward.

Mega Bus female drivers Thuliswa Ntsimbi and Sipati Melupe, who hail from Welkom in the Free State, are glad to have been afforded the opportunity to be included in this year’s competition, saying it enables them to show the world that they are just as capable as their male counterparts.

For Hollard, the competition has had a positive spinoff: not only have extraordinary drivers been recognised for their safe and responsible habits behind the wheel, but other participating drivers have also been inspired – and, as a result, have improved their driving behaviour significantly. Better driving, in turn, reduces risk and leads to safer roads. It also means lower fuel and maintenance costs and fewer claims. For Ntsimbi (28) and Melupe (33), it is exciting to be rewarded for practising good driving habits, which already form part of their daily routine.

The pair became bus drivers by joining the learnership programme offered by Mega Bus, and eventually qualifying to become full-time bus drivers.

“In 2017, I was unemployed and uncertain about my next move in life,” says Ntsimbi. “I found the learnership listed in an advert and decided to apply. I was accepted into the learnership and began my training, which I found challenging but not impossible. I persevered and completed my training. I am now a professional driver, and safety is always a key priority.” She is one of many talented young female bus drivers at Mega Bus, but her skills don’t stop there. Ntsimbi has enrolled for an advanced computer course and is also busy working on acquiring a health and safety certificate.

For Melupe, the chance to become a bus driver was an opportunity to prove that female drivers are more than capable. “I joined the learnership programme in 2017 and quickly realised that women were not always taken seriously in the transportation industry,” she says. “My mission is to prove the doubters wrong. I am determined to win the Highway Heroes competition.”

In this competition, the winner in the bus category walks away with R100 000, sponsored by Clarendon Transport Underwriters (CTU). Melupe sees this as her opportunity to buy a house for her two adoring children.

The fate of the enthusiastic pair is yet to be determined, but they have to be on their best, most alert behaviour to stay in the running.

“Hollard is thrilled by the number of entries received for the competition. The decision to include bus drivers in the Highway Heroes campaign expands our commitment to road safety. We know that two-thirds of our truck drivers maintain good driving habits even outside of the competition, and we expect bus drivers to exhibit the same practices,” says Elka Du Piesanie, Operations Manager at Hollard Risk Services, a division of Hollard Insure and Campaign Manager for Highway Heroes.

As for Ntsimbi and Melupe, the bus drivers say they will continue defying stereotypes and making a difference in the transportation industry. Their words and actions reflect their passion for connecting with people, ensuring their safety and inspiring others to pursue their dreams without any sense of limitation.

Issued by Flow on behalf of Hollard. For more information or an interview, please contact Ayanda Siswana on ayanda@flowsa.com.

For more SA Hero stories go to www.theactionists.co.za