Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  06 May 2009

TRANSPORT: 'Truck Buster' Unit Proves Its Worth


Recent Western Cape Business News

A decision by Cape Town Traffic Services to establish a specialised unit to combat the overloading of long haul, freight transport vehicles, buses and taxis is already paying significant dividends, says Merle Lourens, media spokesperson for the Department.

The unit consists of four traffic officers, two of whom are qualified examiners of motor vehicles.

Not enough attention is paid to heavy duty vehicles involved in the long distance transport of goods and passengers. Their involvement in accidents can often be attributed to driver error or mechanical failure. The road haulage unit pays specific attention to transport interchanges like Joe Gqabi in Philippi and the Cape Town Station, as well as weighbridges on major highways. Sometimes they start work at 03:00 in the morning and they often work through to midnight to apprehend those who knowingly overload their vehicles”, says Lourens.

It is estimated that at least 25% of heavy, long-haul vehicles using South African roads are overloaded and that they cause at least 60% of the damage to our road network. The damage they do is estimated at R800 million annually,” Lourens said.

From January to mid-April, 209 vehicles were suspended from use on a public road as they were found to be unroadworthy. Included in this number were 20 long-distance buses. In addition, drivers of 171 vehicles had fines imposed for defective brakes, 574 for smooth tyres, 259 for unlicenced vehicles and 1447 for other defects.

Seventy percent of the vehicles pulled off the road were trucks and many were not fitted with load sensor valves, or had had the sensor valves removed. This reduces braking efficiency because the heavier the load carried, the longer it takes for the truck to stop.

We find instances where the drivers say that they warn the owners of the defects and request that they be repaired. However, the response sometimes is a threat of ‘Drive the truck or find other work’.  Desperate to maintain an income, they then continue driving an unsafe or suspended vehicle, regardless of the dangers it poses to other road users.

When a suspension notice is given to a driver of a vehicle, he must have the defects repaired and is to bring the vehicle to a Testing Centre for a roadworthy test within 14 days. If he is found driving the same vehicle whilst it is under suspension, a fine of R2500 is imposed. If the vehicle is not brought in for inspection within the mandatory time, a further fine of R300 is sent through the post.

The vehicle operator/owner is charged as well. He/she must appear in court and the magistrate will impose a fine,” Lourens added.

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