eNatis busts unroadworthy vehicles

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 25 Sept 2007

Business intelligence tools in the Department of Transport's much-maligned electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis) have proved effective at rooting out unroadworthy vehicles, says the system's project management team.

"The department was informed that vehicles distributed by a certain local importer had been found to be of substandard quality and had, allegedly, not been inspected to establish their roadworthiness," says Werner Koekemoer, the department's eNatis project manager.

Due to an administrative oversight on the part of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), the vehicles in question, about 400 Chinese-built Asiawing trucks, had not been subjected to roadworthiness testing as is required by law. The trucks were being operated on SA's roads.

Koekemoer says the SABS's Inspectorate of Manufacturers, Builders and Importers is the only authority that can certify a vehicle class roadworthy under the Road Traffic Quality System and approve it as roadworthy on eNatis.

"eNatis provides the department with a highly effective means to ascertain - and enforce - the roadworthiness of vehicles," says Koekemoer.

"In this instance, we intervened by means of the system to correct an administrative oversight on the part of the SABS, thus ensuring that a substantial number of imported vehicles will soon be undergoing roadworthiness testing. In addition, the functionality built into the system will prevent this situation from recurring in the future."

He explains that at the heart of controlling the standard of imported vehicles is a process known as "homologation".

"Homologation, in a nutshell, entails that the Inspectorate of Manufacturers, Builders and Importers establishes that a specific vehicle model complies with the national standards for its type as tested," he says.

"Once a specific model has been homologated, the SABS links the model to the manufacturer, importer or builder (MIB), which may then introduce new vehicle records of the specific design onto the system. It is the responsibility of the MIB to ensure, through its own quality system, that every vehicle of the design is indeed built to the design the SABS has homologated.

"All the vehicles in question have a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of more than 3 500kg and, according to the relevant legislation, such vehicles must be certified roadworthy before they are allowed to operate on public roads," says Koekemoer. "The eNatis functionality automatically marks a vehicle design (model) as requiring roadworthiness testing if the GVM exceeds 3 500kg."

The department has already informed the SABS that the vehicles will be marked on eNatis as requiring roadworthiness testing. It has also provided the SABS with the details of each vehicle's owner and has requested the organisation to contact all of the owners, explaining that their vehicles need to undergo roadworthy testing immediately.

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