The Victorian trucking company involved in a fatal tanker explosion last year used run-down vehicles that were not fit for the road, a whistleblowing Cootes Transport employee claims. Two men were killed and five injured when a Cootes Transport tanker crashed and exploded in Mona Vale last October. According to the Cootes Transport insider, whose identity has been concealed, the company had used a number of vehicles that should never have been on the road. The insider says this included the tanker in the Mona Vale crash, which was using an old trailer that had been brought out of retirement.
According to ABC’s FourCorners, the whistleblower is a long-time Cootes Transport employee. Four Corners also reports Mona Vale crash investigators found the vehicle’s brake linings were worn down and due to be replaced. The insider said Cootes Transport used older vehicles after winning the contract to supply 7/11 service stations with fuel. It was reported that the insider said:
Cootes’ vehicles were being driven with very poor repair jobs done on them. They should never have been on the road – they should’ve been put on a tow truck. Trucks were being put on the road well and truly over their service times. They just don’t get looked at until they breakdown somewhere or something falls off, mudguards fall off, sets of wheels fall off, brake hubs disappear never to be seen again.
A VicRoads audit of 205 Cootes trucks conducted in October of last year resulted in 79 vehicles grounded and 181 defect notices issued. VicRoads has confirmed that seven of these vehicles were still grounded. Transport company McAleese acquired Cootes in 2012. A spokeswoman said that McAleese had spent $33 million upgrading the fleet.
She said that all defects had been repaired at the time of inspection. McAleese has not commented on the Mona Vale incident. That’s because a police investigation is underway with a coronal inquiry pending, according to the spokeswoman. Hopefully, McAleese will correct all of the safety problems it has inherited with the purchase.
Sources: Theage.com and ABC News
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