More Controversy as Faulty Drawbar Saga Continues

A second engineer has been suspended amid safety investigations into broken and cracked towing connections on heavy truck-trailers.

Earlier in the year, more than 1400 trailers were taken off the road for checks, repairs and replacements as a result of both incompetence of one engineer and the NZTA.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) recently said it recognises that it has "issues" with its certification system.

The second engineer suspended is Dick Joyce, an ex-gold-medal-winning Olympian who runs the largest heavy vehicle certifying firm in Wellington.

The first suspensions of Peter Wastney and subsequent fallout has been covered extensively in both Road Torque and mainstream media outlets.

The suspension has caused havoc in the upper South Island in the transport industry. Engineers have been called from across the country to aid local engineers in re-certifying over 1400 trailer units.

In the latest suspension, of Mr Joyce, no trailers have been taken off the road and the NZTA are unsure as to how many units might be affected.

The NZTA have suspended him based on "less than satisfactory outcome" of ongoing trailer inspections, the agency said.

Mr Joyce had been audited quite frequently, according to the NZTA, but his performance didn’t improve.

Three or four other engineers who work for Mr Joyce, covering as far afield as Hawke's Bay and Taupō, are not affected by the suspension.

Industry insiders speak of some serious problems confined to a handful of certifiers, exacerbated by a decade or more of hands-off regulation by NZTA.

"There's some real concerns about the rapid expansion of roading infrastructure over eight or nine years, with our folks reporting some quite persistent jobs not being done to a satisfactory standard," says Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley.

This is just another set back in the wider mess left by the Wastney fiasco, and it will be a long time before the issue is finally solved.

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