At a gesture from the testing officer, the driver gave a tug on the horn. As the blare died the idling engine of the huge truck filled the spaces between the echoes bouncing off quivering eardrums.
The truck was in the Kempton Park Testing Centre workshop, which seemed barely big enough for the behemoth to fit in. The tread depth of its tyres was checked, as well as the braking force for back and front wheels. The inspector then checked for play in steering linkages and for oil leaks.
A few more checks, some notes were made on a slip of paper and the driver was off, having completed the free assessment being offered by Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality.
“Taxi operators, private sector, all are welcome to do a free assessment,” said Ekurhuleni MMC for Roads and Transport, Thumbu Mahlangu. “If we find any issues, all we are saying is here is the problem, go and fix it. You have until the end of the month.”
AA spokesman Graeme Scala said Transport Month was a good idea in principle. “I know the Road Traffic Management Corporation is pulling vehicles off on the side of the road to inspect them, but without incentives I do not think motorists will avail themselves of the offer of free testing.”
He believed businesses were gearing up for the busy season and would not be taking time off for voluntary assessments. Free testing is the carrot, and by-laws and roadblocks are the stick, said Mahlangu.
“We are also keeping an eye on private testing centres. We know of one motorist who took a vehicle to a private testing station where it failed.
“So he took it to another, where it passed. When he arrived at a provincial testing station his vehicle failed again. So it seems that some are only in it for the money. “Bring your vehicle to us; we know what to look out for.”
The MMC seemed to be only half joking when he said that maybe a by-law needed to brought in which would have vehicles tested every six months.
“We’re offering the opportunity. The rest is up to the public. Maybe we must bring a by-law that says that your car must be tested every six months. If it isn’t then we’ll take you in.”
Scala said he had heard some testing station horror stories. “Dynamic brake testing on rollers in the rain, officers who don’t know what they are doing, defective machinery, and the list goes on.”
The campaign runs until October 31 at Nigel, Boksburg and Kempton Park Testing Centres.