Unless Cootes Transport, the dangerous goods transport company that was involved in a fatal crash at Mona Vale last October, can prove that it has enhanced its safety measures in its trucks, they could be banned from the NSW roads in a matter of weeks.
Duncan Gay, Roads Minister, recalled all Cootes fleet that passed through NSW safety checks. Mr. Gay told NSW Parliament on Thursday that he had lost confidence in the trucking company, which has been the biggest fuel distributor in Australia. Mr. Gay said, “I have lost confidence in this company as an operator of dangerous goods movements on New South Wales roads.”
”Cootes Transport has been a repeat offender and enough is enough.”
”Roads and Maritime has given the company every reasonable opportunity to demonstrate it is worthy of operating in NSW but the company has so far failed to do so. Consistent with due process the company has 14 days to take action in order to avoid suspension or cancellation of their rights to travel on NSW roads.”
Mr. Gay told State Parliament that out of 320 trucks inspected, only 179 of them passed through without a formal warning, which is almost half of Cootes’ fleet.
Local authorities have issued over 300 charges against Cootes, owned by the stockmarket listed McAleese Group, since the incident in Mona Vale.
It has been repeatedly found in the past that during inspections, the Cootes trucks have major defects, but have returned to the roads with more problems. In fact, since the fatal incident involving dangerous goods shipping, more than 300 charges have been laid against the trucking firm, said Mr. Gay. He also added that two of their trucks have been found with major defects in its braking system.
Mr. Gay has this to say: ”To date around 320 trucks have been checked and only 179 have passed without receiving a formal warning or a minor or major defect notice.”
The trucking company responsible for dangerous goods transportation is given 14 days to prove why they need not be deregistered. RMS has the authority to suspend or cancel Cootes’ rights to have their trucks travel on NSW roads.
A spokesman of Cootes Transport said that their company will respond to RMS within the given time. He said, “While Cootes Transport has been cooperating with RMS and supports all moves to improve safety, we were surprised to receive a notice to show cause as we are in the process of exiting the majority of our NSW operation as part of a company-wide restructure.”
“In Sydney alone, Cootes has reduced its fleet from 105 trucks to the current level of 67, which will further reduce to 44 trucks at the end of June.
“Cootes has spent in excess of $5 million in refurbishing its fleet and improving maintenance at its facilities.
“Cootes takes its safety responsibilities extremely seriously and will continue to improve the standards of its operations.”
Walt Secord, an Opposition spokesman, said that Labor supports Mr. Gay’s decision. But he said that he worries for the drivers who may face uncertainty and possibly, unemployment because of Cootes’ wrongful practices.
Also, the possibility of Cootes trucks being deregister could potentially impact fuel supplies in the country. The company currently delivers petro to Shell, BP, 7-Eleven, and Coles Express.