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Alert sparks safety checks

Graeme Reisima, of Reisima Haulage in Masterton, with a draw-beam and drawbar that have come under scrutiny from NZTA. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
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It was a mad scramble for a Wairarapa trucking company on Tuesday to ensure its rigs were fit for purpose, after an urgent safety alert was issued.

The New Zealand Transport Agency issued the alert demanding that operators clean and check towing connections for cracks.

This comes after an investigation into Wellington certifier Dick Joyce, who NZTA says was found to be responsible for signing off towing connections that were either too old or too weak.

Graeme Reisima runs a dozen trucks with Reisima Haulage in Masterton. Half his fleet was affected by the warning.

Reisima got wind of it on Monday night, and said there was no way he was going to send his vehicles out without having them assessed.

It was the first thing he did on Tuesday morning, and he was relieved to have his trucks back on the road before noon.

“We’ve had them checked out and they’re good to go,” he said.

A local engineer confirmed there was “no obvious signs of stress or fatigue” – a result Reisima had expected.

He said he had erred on the side of caution as he only wanted trucks on the road that were “100 per cent safe”.

“The next step is to see what NZTA do – if they make us re-certify or if they’ll allow us to carry on – but I’m picking that NZTA, being risk adverse, will get us to get them recertified.”

Reisima said had his affected fleet been forced off the road, it would have cost him $10,000 a day.

He was surprised Joyce had become the second certifier, after Nelson’s Peter Wastney, to fall foul of the agency.

Reisima had not seen anything wrong with his own trucks, not heard of worries from other truckers before now, and had not heard of any failures.

“I’ve known him [Joyce] for 15 years. I thought he was extra-cautious, he over-engineered stuff and was risk-averse, so I’m very surprised at this.”

NZTA’s Craig Basher said the warning covered 483 heavy haulers and logging trailers.

The agency has determined the issue as being “that the towing connections are certified to a higher weight than they’ve been designed to cope with”.

NZTA is now recruiting three more auditors, after having just one auditor covering all 180 certifiers nationwide for years.

– with RNZ

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