Modern Quarrying

This month I am writing about another subject not being efficiently addressed by the authorities, if at all; and that is the increasing number of unroadworthy trucks that are on the roads. One only has to look at the number of scams that continue, often unabated; the court cases that are drawn out, sometimes for years; and sadly, the deaths due to the nonchalant attitude of some trucking companies.

Dale comment imageThis last December it became personal when my pregnant daughter, her husband and my precious 17-month old grandchild were almost killed by a five-ton truck carrying pallets, which veered across the highway when the driver lost control, pushing my son-in-law’s vehicle into the concrete barrier wall and spilling its cargo over the highway and into the traffic moving in the opposite direction. It was a major pile up with several vehicles involved.

My son-in-law, who drives a 3,0 litre Toyota Hilux, said they were fortunate to be driving a solid vehicle as opposed to my daughter’s sedan. Should they have been in her vehicle, the truck would have ridden right over the car. My daughter, who was in the passenger side was severely bruised by the impact and had to examined at the hospital; and my grandson’s window which was shatterproof, was completely shattered by the pallets. He would have been cut to pieces if this had not been the case.

And here’s the thing – the truck’s vehicle license had expired and this included the roadworthy certificate, which had not been renewed since February last year. The company owner, who shortly afterwards conveniently left for an overseas trip, was extremely apologetic, offering all kinds of assistance and giving all kinds of promises which to date, have not been forthcoming. Why has this man not been cited for contravening sections of the National Road Traffic Act by operating an unroadworthy truck? And why has his trucking business not been investigated?

The driver was in terrible shock and stood at the side of the road weeping, grief stricken at the damage caused and obviously terrified at the possibility of losing his job. But it wasn’t his fault that the vehicle was unroadworthy. The owner should have been taken to the police station and duly charged, because ultimately, his negligence caused the accident.

Incidentally, the vehicle was a right off. Thankfully my family was unharmed. But am I angry? Yes, I am. I am angry and bitterly frustrated. The high accident and death rate in South Africa – on average 43 people die on the country’s roads every day – is to be expected when one sees the statistics obtained in Fleetwatch’s Brake & Tyre Watch examinations over the past 10 years; these have revealed a failure rate of 68%, with 485 trucks out of 679 trucks tested, being declared unroadworthy.
According to the CSIR and SA Road Federation’s Paul Nordengen, our low levels of enforcement mean that probably only about five percent of trucks on the road are

involved in interactions with law enforcers on an annual basis, while he estimates that up to 40% of trucks on our roads are non-compliant. He says a recent survey in Mozambique has shown that 80-90% of the trucks are operating in an overload condition, with the maximum overload reported being a massive 53 t.

Here in Cape Town, road traffic services uncovered a vehicle roadworthy scam after pulling over a dilapidated rubble truck, which had been certified roadworthy only a few hours before. The tyres were smooth, the lights were broken, the shocks were defective as were the brakes, and yet the driver seemed unaware of any defects on his truck. He had no hesitation in presenting the roadworthy certificate which had been issued just hours before at a private testing facility.

This isn’t anything new, it’s happening across the country and the system is completely flawed. It is also time to have a relook at some aspects of the SA Road Traffic Regulations, some of which date back to 1957.

There are far too many cases of bribery and corruption in this sector. For those companies and those authorities taking shortcuts and not going the legal route in terms of road certification and licensing, just remember that if 43 people die on our roads every day – and one day a truck smashes into a loved one’s car – please don’t be surprised.

It’s called Karma.

Dale Kelly
Editor

Contact Modern Quarrying

Title: Editor
Name: Dale Kelly
Email: dalek@crown.co.za
Phone: 083 419 9162


Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Bennie Venter
Email: benniev@crown.co.za
Phone: (011) 622-4770
Fax: (011) 615-6108

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