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Durban - Nineteen trucks have been impounded, most with faulty brakes, since the start of an operation at the weekend that is targeting heavy vehicles, including those using Field’s Hill.
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport has launched operation Phezu Kwabo in a bid to avert further carnage after the Field’s Hill crash that claimed 23 lives.
An articulated truck owned by Durban company Sagekal Logistics ploughed into several vehicles at the foot of the hill, allegedly after its brakes failed, on September 5.
On Tuesday, Transport MEC Willies Mchunu joined a team of Road Traffic Inspectorate officers at a roadblock at the Marriannhill toll plaza where they inspected trucks and buses for roadworthiness.
Mchunu confirmed that officials had found faulty brakes on most of the heavy vehicles they had examined since the start of the operation.
“Brakes that are not working are a killer. You can’t drive around with faulty brakes because in doing that you are putting the lives of many people in danger,” he said.
Responding to claims by Gregory Govender, owner of Sagekal Logistics, that his company was being targeted after the Field’s Hill crash, Mchunu said fleet owners always claimed they were being targeted when the department clamped down on unroadworthy vehicles.
“There was a time when we had a bus company that was involved in many deaths of passengers. Even then we could not sit and fold our arms.”
Traffic inspectors raided the Phoenix premises of Sagekal Logistics on Sunday and impounded three trucks that were alleged to have oil leaks and faults with brakes and handbrakes.
Last Thursday, a truck owned by the company was impounded for having faulty brakes.
“There will be an operation to focus on trucks at Field’s Hill at a particular time,” Mchunu said. “Before we can begin working on a way forward, there must be high police visibility in all red-spot areas on Field’s Hill.”
Mchunu said he was waiting for a full report on the crash, but expected to have it this week. “This will outline everything, like what steps can be taken, what laws were broken, if there are laws that need to be amended or strengthened. Once we have everything, we will hand it over to the minister,” he said.
Mchunu said he would have to consult all the parties that would be affected should the laws be changed.
“I will have to speak to the Freight Owners Association, businesses and people who have brought forward their suggestions.”
Mchunu said at least 1 000 vehicles an hour were leaving the province over the long weekend, which increased the likelihood of accidents.
He said more than 21 motorists had been arrested for speeding on provincial roads at the weekend.