245 According to The Road Traffic Management Corporation nearly half freight and public drivers do not qualify to be on the South African roads because they do not renew their Professional Drivers Permit when they expire. 180214 Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - Nearly half a million heavy-duty truck and public transport drivers don’t have valid drivers’ documents for South African roads.

This shocking revelation - disclosed on Wednesday by the Road Traffic Management Corporation - has stunned Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ismail Vadi.

Vadi has joined senior RTMC officials in urging the public transport owners to comply with the law or face heavy punishment for defaulting.

RTMC chief executive Makhosini Msibi said the corporation had found that nearly half-a-million professional drivers were operating without the proper documentation.

“The RTMC is warning freight and public transport operators that it plans to hold them liable for the failure of their drivers to renew their professional drivers’ permits,” Msibi said.

He said 433 973 expired professional driving permits were recorded on the national traffic information system on 31 December 2014 - representing 43.3 percent of all PDPs issued in South Africa.

OPERATORS TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE

The RTMC said the provinces that recorded the highest increase in the number of expired PDPs were Gauteng with 366 761 or 49.8 percent, KwaZulu-Natal recorded 201 628 or 43.6 percent, and Northern Cape had 32 549 or 42.5 percent.

Msibi said: “Drivers are required to produce a medical fitness certificate and maintain a clean criminal record in order to obtain a professional driver’s permit.”

He warned that the Road Traffic Act placed a duty on operators to exercise proper control over their drivers and to ensure compliance with the law.

“It is the duty of the operator to ensure that both the driver and the vehicle are fit to be operating on a public road,” Msibi pointed out.

He vowed that all traffic departments in the country would step up their vigilance and investigate all major accidents to establish the compliance level of operators.

“This collaboration will be rolled out throughout the year, and unannounced inspections will be undertaken on operators’ premises to establish compliance levels.

“Habitual overloading offenders will be identified and stringent measures will be taken against those found to be unwilling to comply with the law,” Msibi said.

BOGUS MEDICAL CERTIFICATES

RTMC spokesman Simon Zwane said it would also be investigating the possibility that some of the drivers were obtaining bogus medical certificates to use the roads.

He mentioned that Swazi national Sanele Goodness May, who was charged with the killing of 24 people in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, in September 2013, did not have a PDP.

Zwane said that formed part of the RTMC’s report and was used in the criminal docket.

May pleaded guilty to all 31 charges in November and was jailed for eight years and 10 months.

Isaac Wade Maruding, who was allegedly involved in a crash in Alberton in October, was charged with four counts of culpable homicide and one count of reckless and negligent driving.

Mike Goelst of Freighthaul Transport and Logistics Services urged truck drivers to comply with the law. He said it was up to the traffic department to enforce legislation.

The Star