At least 26 people were killed have been killed following the explosion of a gas tanker in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg South Africa on 24 December 2022.
The explosion happened on a bridge near Tambo Memorial Hospital.
The driver was arrested and charged with multiple counts of culpable homicide, negligent driving, negligent causing of an explosion resulting in death, and malicious damage to property.
He was eventually released after the court found that there wasn’t enough evidence.
Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) Managing Director Arnoux Maré reiterates that the driver has a professional driving qualification in working at heights, approximately seven years of experience transporting hazardous materials, and is highly knowledgeable with regard to the risks associated with transporting hazardous materials.
The driver also holds a valid driver’s license valid until 13 January 2027, and Professional Driving Permit valid until 12 January 2024.
Maré says the Internal investigation has so far established the following facts:
– On 24 December 2022, the driver was en route from Richards Bay to Botswana.
– After overnighting for approximately 10 hours at an approved truck stop, the driver took the wrong exit to get onto the N17 highway. He immediately tried to correct himself to get back on route.
– The exit, unfortunately, directed him under the bridge.
– The bridge height restriction boards were unclear.
– As an experienced and responsible driver, he first stopped the vehicle to establish if the truck and trailer would fit under the bridge before he drove through carefully.
– Only when he was comfortable that the truck and trailer would make it under the bridge, he proceeded with caution.
– However, the driver did not realise that the incline at the bottom of the bridge would raise the back of the trailer.
– At approximately 06:15, the truck got stuck under the bridge, which caused the gas tanker to sustain damage which released liquified petroleum gas.
– When he heard a metal scraping sound, he immediately stopped the vehicle and jumped out. He first checked the front of the vehicle and could not detect any damage.
– When he inspected the back of the vehicle, he noticed that the tanker’s cap had been scraped off.
– He immediately called his ISS controller and informed them of the incident.
– The driver then called the fire department himself and alerted them of the incident and the gas leak.
– He immediately took the necessary action to cordon off the scene and to warn the public, motorists, and passer-by traffic to immediately leave the area.
– He managed to stop three vehicles, but others drove through his barricade and would not heed his warnings.
– A security vehicle stopped and helped him to put up safety tape behind the truck, while the driver ran to put up the safety tape ahead of the vehicle.
– When he realised that the security vehicle had not displayed the tape far enough from the back of the truck, he ran and pulled it off and moved it a couple of hundred meters further to keep people away from the scene.
– The driver kept shouting at people to leave the scene and even tried to physically move the gathering crowds out of the way.
– Two women witnessed his attempts and also tried to assist him. One also provided statements accordingly.
– Approximately 30 minutes after the truck got stuck, it ignited.
– The driver was eventually overcome by gas inhalation and lost consciousness. An ambulance collected him and drove him away before the truck exploded approximately 30 minutes later.
On 28 December 2022, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) stated that there was no case against the driver as provincial police said there was not enough evidence against the driver.
Innovative Staffing Solutions says that its investigation findings will be handed over to the authorities.