From trucks with no brakes or steering wheel to one with grass growing in its undercarriage, the team behind the Brake and Tyre Watch initiative has seen it all.
When an ancient, rusted Mack truck with a leaking fuel tank and missing brakes was flagged down during a quarterly inspection at the Breede Valley traffic department in Worcester on Thursday, nobody was surprised.
Team menber Kathy Bell, Standard Bank’s transport specialist, said: “This is a perfect example of what we see all the time.
“We have to discontinue about 70 percent of the trucks we pull over because they aren’t roadworthy.”
Thursday’s inspection was the latest in a series of spot checks held across the country.
Together with local traffic officials, the Brake and Tyre Watch team has been conducting stringent safety checks on the buses and trucks travelling on South Africa’s roads.
Bell said the inspections were designed to raise transport operators’ awareness of the subject of efficient braking and tyre checking.
It also served to teach traffic officials how to spot severe faults in heavy vehicles.
Bell said the plan was to get problem trucks off the road because they posed a huge risk to other motorists.
FREQUENT TRUCK CRASHES
In the past two weeks there have been frequent reports of truck crashes in the Western Cape, including one incident in which two people died after a truck shot off the Katbakkies Pass between Ceres and the Koue Bokkeveld on Tuesday.
During Thursday’s inspection in Worcester, 23 trucks were pulled over by traffic officials, 17 of which were discontinued and impounded after inspectors determined they were not roadworthy.
While a truck with grass growing in its undercarriage was the standout case of the day, Bell said the team had run into some unique situations during the initiative’s seven-year history.
“Once we pulled over a truck driver who was cooking on a paraffin stove on the seat next to him. Another truck was being driven without a steering wheel.”
Since February 2006, the team has “discontinued” 310 heavy vehicles.
Bell said that while most transport operators stuck to the rules, it was the minority who were ruining the industry’s reputation.
“It’s also unfair to blame the drivers because it should fall on the operators to make sure the drivers are taking the proper precautions and driving roadworthy vehicles.”
Western Cape traffic head Kenny Africa said he supported the initiative because it was training officials who would able to remove problem vehicles from the road before they ended up in a serious crash.
“I want to look at the days after Thursday’s inspection and see how many trucks our newly-trained officials find,” he said.
He added he would continue including the Western Cape’s traffic officials in future inspections. - Cape Argus