Overloaded garbage trucks in danger of rollovers
DANGEROUSLY overloaded garbage trucks have been operating illegally across NSW with already nervous drivers now fearing aftermarket repairs could be making the trucks susceptible to rolling over.
Two trucks have tipped onto their sides in the last six weeks in incidents in Penrith and Nowra, while another has rolled through an embankment at Raymond Terrace. The operator insists the trucks are safe.
To try to fix the problem, drivers are being told to collect 2000kg less garbage per trip - meaning they are on the roads for longer and crews have to do more runs to the tip.
"These trucks are just garbage and what has been done to fix them up is a joke," a concerned former driver said.
"Our concern is that we will be driving an overloaded truck when an accident happens - someone will get hurt and the driver will get the blame," he said.
French-owned waste management company SUEZ subcontracts almost 100 garbage trucks to councils in Campbelltown, Port Stephens, Sutherland Shire and Canberra.
The vehicles have a weight limit of 6500kg on the front axle - already 500kg above the national limit - but drivers have shown The Daily Telegraph weighbridge photographs of trucks at 7000kg.
Garbo drivers in the Australian Capital Territory have even refused to complete their shifts due to concerns their trucks were too heavy and unsafe to drive.
In Port Stephens a council spokeswoman said it had been notified about the axle issue by SUEZ and briefed on "the actions they were taking to resolve this design weight compliance issue.
"They have reduced the amount of bins each truck collects in a run," she said.
A SUEZ spokesman confirmed it "has recently identified that there was a design issue around weight over front axle on certain vehicles" and was installing scales to help drivers assess their loads.
"Since identifying this issue, SUEZ has been addressing this by carrying out modifications to the relevant vehicles in our fleet to ensure ongoing compliance," he said.
The "modifications" have led to truck bodies being shifted further back on the chassis so that the rear wheels no longer sit in the middle of the wheel arches.
To lever more weight off the front axle, giant iron bars have been welded to the back of the trucks.
Pedestrian Council chairman Harold Scruby called for an independent inquiry into the garbage trucks on NSW roads "because they have been involved in too many incidents lately".