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Durban - Durban has declared war on unroadworthy juggernauts on the city’s roads.
A steady show of force is gaining momentum, as Durban authorities pull trucks off the road, clamp down on corrupt officials, and residents fight to clear trucks away from their homes. This follows the fatal Field’s Hill crash earlier this month, in which 23 people died after a truck, with alleged brake failure, crashed into vehicles.
In peak-hour traffic yesterday, metro police pulled over trucks on the busy Bayhead Road, inspecting the vehicles for defects.
Metro officers checked drivers’ licences, public driving permits, mechanical faults, and whether foreign drivers were registered to drive on South African roads. About 87 trucks were inspected within two-and-a-half hours, and 29 fines were issued, totalling R28 000.
“Most of the trucks had tyres that were not roadworthy, such as retreads that were coming apart, or smooth, and there were other problems with headlights, indicators and wiper blades not working,” said Snr Supt Eugene Msomi.
Two trucks had their licence discs removed. They had several defects such as indicators and headlights not working, oil leaks, unroadworthy tyres and hooters not audible. “These are a danger to other motorists, especially if they don’t know that a truck intends to change lanes,” said Msomi.
Many of the drivers were foreign and did not have the proper documentation to drive on South African roads.
“Foreign drivers have to have a traffic register number and then obtain a public driving permit, and in most cases they don’t have these, but owners find it cheaper to hire foreign drivers,” he said.
The fine for no public driving permit is R1 000, while each unroadworthy tyre is fined R300. One truck had six unroadworthy tyres, incurring a fine of R1 800.
On Thursday, two officials from the vehicle testing station in Phoenix were arrested for allegedly declaring unroadworthy vehicles roadworthy. They were caught on Wednesday and are expected to appear in court soon, acting Road Traffic Management Corporation chief executive Gilberto Martins said. “The vehicle examiner and the data capture clerk at the station had passed a heavy motor vehicle belonging to ABI (Amalgamated Beverages Industries) when the examiner was not even at work,” he alleged.
He said the vehicle had been failed twice previously. “The examiner passed it on the same day another examiner failed it,” he said.
Meanwhile, south Durban residents protested against trucks in their area yesterday. Desmond D’sa, co-ordinator of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said the protest was a plea against logistics companies using illegal trucking and urged responsible authorities to act.
“Illegal trucking affects every South Durban community.
“Heavy freight vehicles are causing road blocks and there are no emergency plans in place,” said D’Sa.
Soloman Mahlangu (Edwin Swales VC) Drive and South Coast Road was a hub of heavy trucking activity that caused risks for travellers.
“Children travelling to schools in Wentworth, Merebank and Clairwood are at high risk when crossing these roads,” he said.
Proposing a solution, D’sa said that freight transportation should be carried out on the railways, and this would decrease the number of deaths.
“We’re strongly suggesting the change to the railway transporting system,” said D’sa.
“There is a need for a new plan and the lives of human beings should be put first.”
The chairman of the Clairwood Ratepayers and Residents Association, Rishi Singh, was also present at the scene and said that they were appealing to the eThekwini municipality to implement changes.
“We are appealing to the city as they are the custodians and have the right to remove these trucks,” Singh said.
Independent on Saturday