Leona Kleynhans MPL
Free State Provincial Legislature
Sixty vehicle testing stations across the Free State are currently unable to test the roadworthiness of trucks, Transport MEC, Butana Khompela, has revealed in reply to a written question.
MEC Khompela further stated that only the Harrismith and Ladybrand testing stations meet the minimum requirements for the testing of heavy vehicles.
The department is in the process of finalising the tender process and we welcome the announcement that a contract will be awarded soon for the upgrading of equipment at testing stations.
There are 21 176 registered trucks across the province. With only two testing stations servicing heavy vehicles, it places an additional burden on transportation companies and the staff at testing stations for the renewal of licenses.
The Ladybrand testing station only opens for the testing of heavy vehicles three days a week.
However, despite the department’s commitment to upgrade testing stations, we remain concerned that the department has not come forward with any temporary measures to assist owners of heavy vehicles with reprieves or alternative measures for the testing of heavy vehicles and the renewal of licenses.
I wrote to MEC Khompela on the 4th of September 2014, requesting him to address this situation as a matter of urgency. He is yet to reply to my letter.
Our recommendations included that:
- The Department should transfer testing station operational staff from non-operational to operational testing stations to assist in the addressing the backlog;
- Operational stations open every day to allow for the testing of vehicles;
- Where vehicles cannot be tested and properly licenced due to faulty machinery, that a letter of exemption be issued to the owner, with due consideration given to the visible roadworthiness of vehicles, stating the reason for the vehicle being unlicensed and that this temporary measure be communicated to traffic law enforcement departments throughout the province so as to avoid unfair issuance of fines and prevent the unfair impoundment of vehicles until testing stations are all fully operational;
- Issue a public notice to inform the public at large of the situation, how it will be addressed, which stations are operational so that heavy vehicle owners can make arrangements to facilitate the testing and renewal of licences.
The Free State’s rural economy relies heavily on road transportation. Dysfunctional testing stations coupled with the poor state of our roads have a negative and compounding effect on our struggling economy. Government’s failure to ensure the smooth delivery of services ultimately contributes to the province’s struggling GDP, skyrocketing unemployment as well as widening the inequality gap and entrenching poverty.