Ongoing investigations into heavy vehicle certification issues widens scope

5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 3, 2018

As part of ongoing investigations into heavy vehicle certification issues, the NZ Transport Agency is looking at whether some heavy vehicle certifiers have signed off on any towing connections without actually seeing the vehicle.

“The NZ Transport Agency is focused on ensuring the safety of all heavy vehicles on our roads. We are committed to ensuring a high standard of heavy vehicle certifications to ensure public safety,” said Charles Ronaldson, NZTA‘s general manager customer design and delivery.

Ronaldson said in the area of specialist heavy vehicle certification, NZTA relied on the support of a network of qualified professionals to carry out the services that they were appointed to provide to a high standard.

“It is extremely disappointing when a person appointed to carry out these specialised services fails to perform their duties to the high standards required, as has been the case with both Mr Wastney and Mr Joyce,” said Ronaldson.

“It should be noted that the decision to suspend Mr Joyce in June of this year was taken in response to safety concerns identified during the Transport Agency‘s regular auditing process. The Transport Agency is also auditing other certifiers, as part of our auditing regime, and we will continue to take enforcement action wherever it is warranted in order to ensure public safety.”

NZTA had previously made a decision to strengthen its auditing capability in this area as an urgent priority, and Ronaldson said they were currently recruiting for three additional auditors (trained engineers) and two additional heavy vehicle engineers, and were also working to build broader engineering capability in the sector.

With regards to Dick Joyce, NZTA said the investigation was still ongoing.

“Any decision to commence revocation action would need to be supported by evidence which will stand up to scrutiny in the courts, and the Transport Agency is carrying out a thorough investigation and gathering the evidence needed to make a fully informed decision,” said a spokesperson from the NZTA. “Should a decision be made to revoke certification authority, Mr Joyce would have the right to appeal the decision to the District Court.”

Joyce was served with an indefinite suspension notice on 13 June 2018, and this suspension remains in place while NZTA‘s investigation is being completed.

NZTA said while no other heavy vehicle certifiers were currently under active investigation, they would look into any concerns or issues raised during the investigations that were currently underway.

The spokesperson said at any given time the Transport Agency will have a number of ‘open‘ certification complaint files open, and these are generally in support of their auditing role, i.e. investigating a complaint relating to a specific certification. These can relate to light or heavy vehicles, and can include complaints about individual Warrants of Fitness (WoF) or Certificates of Fitness (CoF).

NZTA was asked by RNZ if during the course of these investigations they had come across any evidence of heavy vehicle towing connections in any respect NOT matching the design; and if certifiers had issued certifications ‘remotely‘ – such as by phone or computer on the basis of photos supplied by the workshop, but not checked the vehicle in person.

The spokesperson said NZTA was looking at both of the issues above as part of their current investigations.

“We‘re not able to provide any further details or comment on these issues while these investigations are underway, as any such evidence could be used to support decisions to suspend or revoke the certification authority of the individuals under investigation.”