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Transport Minister Dipuo Peters is considering banning all heavy vehicles on local roads all over the country – with a long-term plan which will see all goods in South Africa being transported by rail.
The minister said she would conduct an extensive consultation process before making the decision but ultimately the government’s main aim is to eradicate tragic crashes - like the fatal accident in Pinetown in which a runaway truck ploughed into four fully loaded minibus taxis and a car, killing 23 people - and emphatically move all goods by road to rail.
This comes as the owner of a truck that killed two people in 2010 was sentenced to seven years behind bars in the Protea Magistrates Court in Soweto yesterday.
The court found that he put his truck driver on the road despite being fully aware of the condition of his vehicle, according to Eyewitness News (EWN). Earlier this week, Simon Manase was found guilty on two counts of culpable homicide.
Magistrate Anton le Roux said Manase showed no remorse for the deaths he caused and that no amount of jail time could ever return the victims to their families.
Le Roux said Manase sent his driver out to work, knowing that his truck was not roadworthy. A court report showed Manase’s truck had faulty brakes, a faulty steering wheel and a loose front wheel.
Two men were killed when the truck plunged into their vehicle while they were driving to work from Soweto, EWN reported.
Transport spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso said the case would set a precedent for other truck owners who fail to ensure that their fleet of vehicles are free of defects.
Rikhotso said the minister’s consideration to ban heavy vehicles from local roads formed part of the National Transport Master Plan which was revealed recently.
But the Road Freight Employers’ Association said the banning of trucks on local roads is a wild statement to make.
Gavin Kelly, technical and operations manager asked: “How will the goods get to the shops, factories and depots that are serviced by roads other than wide tolled roads?”
Kelly added that freight transport would just become more expensive as the freight must be moved.
Paul Browning, a transport analyst, said it would be regrettable to go back to a situation where we made it compulsory to use rail. It should be market driven. - Saturday Star