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“It’s shocking to find you’re the only one on the road” – Neil Prakasen

The Road Freight Association (RFA) salutes the thousands of truck drivers across the country who are continuing to deliver much-needed essential goods during Lockdown. “Life as a truck driver is challenging at the best of times,” says RFA Chief Executive Gavin Kelly, “But the pressures are even greater amid the Coronavirus pandemic”. Over the next few weeks the RFA will be sharing the stories of our truck drivers, our heroes….

“I’ve been driving for 14 years and I’ve been through it all,”

says Neil Prakasen, a cryogenic driver.

“But it’s shocking to find you’re the only one on the road.”

Neil has been driving trucks for 12 years now and he is part of a team of cryogenic drivers at Crossroads, delivering oxygen to hospitals. Crossroads is a local transport company operating both domestically and regionally.

Amidst the Covid19 crisis, the demand for oxygen is high, so the workload has increased significantly – a trend which is likely to continue as the pandemic spreads.

“Our usual number of oxygen deliveries to hospitals was three a day before Lockdown,”

says Neil.

“It is now up to five a day.  But we are coping. Our standards remain the same and we continue to perform to the high safety standards required.”

“My employer Crossroads has supplied everything we need to be protected,”

continues Neil.

“All drivers have all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) necessary, so we are protected”.

Being a driver at the frontline of the pandemic is stressful.

“My life is at risk,”

says Neil.

“We cannot see Coronavirus, we cannot feel it, we cannot touch it. This is stressful”.

He is especially fearful of bringing the virus home to his family. He lives with his wife, their two children and his father.

Truck drivers are at the frontline of this Covid19 pandemic

Truck drivers are at the frontline of this Covid19 pandemic. Neil’s daily routine includes loading his tanker, driving to customers, offloading the oxygen, as well as signing all the paperwork.

Neil and his fellow truck drivers at Crossroads are committed to fighting the virus and staying on the road.

“You can say we are risking our lives,”

he continues.

“But we do it because we love our country and it would be inhuman not to. We are committed to getting the job done”.

Neil’s wishes for the immediate future are for people to stay home.

“Coronavirus is not a game,”

he says.

“People are really suffering and people are dying. If people take the virus lightly, they will spread it. Our medical system will not be able to cope with this.”

“We do the best we can for our country,”

concludes Neil.

“Together, we can conquer Coronavirus”.

“As long as trucks and our truck drivers are around, our country will not stop”,

says Kelly.

"It's shocking to find you're the only one on the road" - Neil Prakasen

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa