By Justus de Goede, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transportation:
In his address on the tabling of the annual report for the Department of Roads and Transport, MEC Ismail Vadi provided additional detail on last month’s near-tragic incident on the Pretoria/Hatfield line of the Gautrain where a lorry ended up on one of the tracks.
Only ten days later have normal services resumed.
While the cause of the accident is still unknown, it was bizarre enough to raise questions around the mechanical causes.
While being grateful that a disaster was avoided, in large part thanks to the reflexes of the train driver, Gauteng residents must be thinking about the irony in this particular incident: the Province’s best, public transport system derailed by a component of probably the worst aspect of our transport systems, heavy road vehicles.
Those who listened to last week’s debate, would have heard the DA point out the disgraceful results obtained by heavy vehicles at just one Johannesburg testing centre where close to seventy per cent of vehicles inspected had serious defects.
Given these shocking results, the question becomes not will another incident happen, but when?
For years the safety record of heavy vehicles on Provincial roads has been sporadically discussed after major crashes, but no follow-up action ensues.
The MEC’s department should take the unpopular step needed to force transport operators, including bus operators, who flout vehicle safety and maintenance guidelines, to keep their vehicles out of service until they are once again roadworthy.
This is the very least that can be done to end the suffering and economic damage we see daily on our roads.