DENNIS CHILD TELLS OF HIS TIME WORKING AS CHIEF MECHANICAL ENGINEER AT SOUTH AFRICAN UTILITY ESKOM, AND LATER FOR HEAVY HAULAGE SPECIALIST ROTRAN.
During his adolescence Dennis Child enthusiastically watched the Pacific Truck and Trailer heavies in the fleet operated by South African Railways and Harbours. He began by drawing, and later photographing the vehicles. This developed into a serious project with over 750,000 photographs currently in his collection. As his career in engineering developed, he was able to pursue his hobby alongside his professional duties. Here he describes the challenges and conditions faced by heavy hauliers working in South Africa.
In the early seventies South Africa was undertaking mega construction projects. Companies such as National Petroleum Refiners of South Africa (Natref) and energy and chemical company Sasol, as well as numerous others, required heavy loads to be moved from inland manufacturing facilities or from ports such as Richards Bay and Durban. “This was controlled by the Department of Transport (DoT) which selected the routes,” explains Child. “The DoT regulated the conveyance of abnormal loads with a view to safety and infrastructure protection. Loading was controlled according to the ‘foot print rule’. With the introduction of European-specified trailers in 2006 utilising the ‘effective width rule’ allowed operators to run at higher speeds and weights. This brought about efficiency benefits but, the three-metre-wide trailers had problems in high camber locations.
“With the approval of conveyance of the abnormal loads, the risk lies with the transporter and all submissions for exemption permits is done via a consultant engineer. Routes have varying maximum limits. Suspect bridges might require propping to avoid damage. Heavy tractor-units are restricted to exemption permit conditions which affects the Pacific and Tractomas units run by Rotran.