As a result of falling attendance at monthly presentations over the past year or so, the committee of the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE) Johannesburg centre has taken the decision to suspend regular monthly general meetings until further notice.
Citing the reasons for this, the committee issued a statement saying: “It is difficult to identify and arrange good topics and speakers on a continuing basis and then, on the night, have only a few people attend. This is disappointing to both the speaker and the Institute. However, should the opportunity for a suitable topic and speaker – or an interesting site visit – arise in the future, notice and details of the proposed presentation will be circulated as normal.”
The statement also advised that the immediate past chairman of the committee, George Hartman, recently relocated permanently to Australia and as a consequence, the local Johannesburg committee will not be restructured at this stage.
“We hope that after more than 60 years of existence, this will not be goodbye to the Johannesburg centre activities but rather a break to allow a breathing space for introspection and review of the situation in the short term,” the statement added.
FleetWatch can confirm the low attendance having being present at the last meeting where accident investigator, Craig Proctor-Parker gave a fascinating talk titled ‘Traffic Accident Investigation, Reconstruction and Cause Analysis.’
His presentation was most apt given the large number of truck accidents on our roads. Did you know, however, that it is estimated that less than 1% of all criminal case dockets opened for investigation – and therefore includes crash cases – actually ever reach finalisation at a court with some level of conviction. Surely this is something the industry should take note of and do something about? Transport engineers – via the IRTE – can give valuable input into causes of accidents but who will now take this up? There were only 12 people present – including myself – of which only four were full IRTE members. The rest of the room was filled with unoccupied chairs.
Aside from this, the evening was embarrassing for the IRTE as Proctor-Parker put a lot of work into his presentation and had flown up from Durban that afternoon – at his own expense – to do the presentation. He then flew back late that same night.
It is a sad situation as FleetWatch has always contended that the South African trucking industry needs a strong and viable forum for engineers – not only to network and discuss topical issues but also to lobby Government in terms of applicable legislation and other vital aspects that affect our industry.
In the past, this was provided via the three centres of the IRTE in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town with meetings well attended and input very valuable. As time went by, Cape Town closed, then Durban and now it seems Johannesburg is on its last legs. So I must ask: Is this the end of the IRTE in South Africa?
Going back to the statement, the committee advised that as paid-up members are directly associated with the Institute’s London based head-office, nothing will change in terms of individual membership, related benefits, and obligations. Annual membership fees will be still payable directly to London as normal.
The IRTE SA local website at www.irte.org.za will be continued for the foreseeable future and the Johannesburg centre’s FaceBook page at – institute of road transport engineers – Johannesburg will also continue. Members and visitors can access the IRTE/SOE London website at www.soe.org.uk
The financial support to the students currently undertaking the Transport Manager’s Diploma at the University of Johannesburg will continue until completion of studies, though no further candidates will be called for, or sponsored, in the future.
The committee expressed its regret that this decision has been taken, “but the success of any organisation such as the IRTE is dependent on the support of its members, friends and visitors.”
Members of the current centre committee have agreed to be available by email contact for questions related to IRTE matters, or technical transport and vehicle topics. The committee members and contact details are:
Jim Campbell: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andre Cilliers: email@example.com
Cornell Dunn: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Fisher: email@example.com
Louis Malan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorraine Houndsome: email@example.com