Pretoria - South African heavy vehicle drivers have scooped five awards in various categories at the 28th World Professional Drivers' Championships.
The awards ceremony, which was hosted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the Department of Transport, was held at Sun City Resort near Rustenburg on Friday.
"Driving trucks is my passion," said Vishnu Naidoo from KwaZulu-Natal, who was very excited at being number one in the rigid category.
"Winning this award is serious encouragement to me because we normally work hard on the road and do not get the necessary recognition."
Simon Motsepe of Mmakau village in the North West received an award for first position in the bus category.
"Driving buses is part of my life and ... I am very good at driving buses. My hard work and passion for my work helped me to receive this big recognition," he said.
Lettah Mokhutswane of Mabopane township, a woman employee at the City of Tshwane Bus Service, is one of the two South African women who participated in the world driver championship.
She is the only woman who received an award for third position in the bus category.
"I think my performance was not bad at all. Receiving this award is an honour for me and I would like to dedicate it to all the women drivers in the world. It was just the beginning; next time, I will be at position one," she said delightedly.
In the group category, Team South Africa managed to get four awards, while Finland, Germany and Switzerland took the other awards.
The participants in the championship were competing in eight different categories, ranging from rigid, bus, articulated, rigid track and four wheel trailer, light delivery vehicle to articulated economical driving category.
South Africa, Finland and Germany scooped most of the awards.
The North West provincial government congratulated all the winners in various categories.
Speaking on behalf of Premier Thandi Modise, MEC for Human Settlements, Public Safety and Liaison, Nono Maloyi, said the championship would improve the morale of heavy vehicle drivers in the country.
He further thanked all the participants and organisers for hosting a successful international event in the North West, which took place for the first time on the African continent.
"I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who participated in the championship and those who emerged as winners. In the same breath, I want to congratulate RTMC for ensuring that they remain an affiliate of UICR, which made it possible for this competition to be hosted on African soil for the first time in its history," he cited.
The President of Union Internationale Des Chaufferures Routiers (UICR), Ludwig Buchel, also congratulated all the winners and the North West province for hosting them successfully.
"We are very touched by the high level of hospitality of the people of South Africa, particularly the province that is hosting us.
"In congratulating all the winners, I would also like to say a big thank you to our hosts, particularly the people of the North West province."
Acting CEO of the RTMC, Collins Letsoalo, also joined those who congratulated all the winners and emphasized that hosting the heavy vehicle international championships was a good sign that the transport sector was moving to a better position on the world stage.