Overloaded by 23 tons

TWO trucks were caught carrying many tons over their weight limit at the Mpo­fana weighbridge in Mooi River in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

In what the Mpofana Municipality has labelled the worst transgression in the weighbridge’s two-year history, traffic officers stopped both trucks — one of which was carrying some 23 tons over limit. The driver of that truck is due to make an appearance at the Mooi River Magistrate’s Court, facing charges relating to vehicle overloading.

Drivers are normally fined for overloading, but the weight was so far over limit that it exceeded weight amounts on the station’s fine schedule. The other truck was carrying more than 18 tons over its limit.

The driver of that truck was fined R7 500. Both trucks were from RBK Carriers, and were said to be carrying chrome to Durban.

Officers who carried out the operation said one of the truck drivers fled the scene after being caught, but later turned up along with other staff from RBK. Paul Greyling, a manager for Mpofana traffic, said one of the trucks was so heavy the weighbridge’s scale needed to be adjusted to get a proper reading.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever seen overloading being so high,” he said.

Two additional trucks needed to be called in from RBK to take on the extra load before the trucks could be released.

Greyling hoped this incident would send a stern warning to potential road transgressors.

“We have cameras monitoring the N3 and R103 and there are weight plates on the road that notify us when there may be a vehicle that is over limit.

“The information is so advanced that it shows us the vehicle’s number plate, and whether there is a warrant of arrest issued in connection with that vehicle.

“We also randomly pull trucks off the road, and don’t only rely on technology.”

He said: “Overloading is a huge problem, and so we started a night shift at this station. [Truck drivers] operate at night because they know most weighbridges are closed at night, but they get caught when passing through [Mooi River].” Greyling said the station nabbed trucks that were overloaded on a weekly basis.

“Sometimes they even send people to drive ahead of the trucks to check whether the weighbridges are full and that the coast is clear. So it’s an elaborate thing and there are several habitual offenders.”

He added that overloading caused severe damage to tarred roads and huge safety concerns for motorists.

“These runaway truck incidents usually happen because of overloading and brakes overheating.”

A man at the weighbridge station when The Witness visited on Tuesday identified himself as an owner of RBK Carriers, but refused to comment.