NSW Police blitz on WestConnex truck safety uncovers breaches and bikie links
Photo: The blitz was triggered by some serious accidents involving WestConnex trucks. (ABC News: Jessica Kidd)
Dozens of major safety breaches and defects have been discovered during a major safety blitz on trucks sub-contracted to Sydney's WestConnex project.
Police uncovered problems such as cracked couplings, bald tyres and dodgy brakes when they intercepted dozens of trucks on the M5 at Bexley and near the M4 at Sydney Olympic Park.
"In two days we found 33 truck and trailer defects and issued 22 infringements. That is simply not good enough," said Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, the acting commander of the Traffic and Highway Patrol.
"If you think you can get away with owning or driving a truck that is not up to scratch, you are wrong."
Superintendent Stuart Smith said they also found evidence that members of outlaw bikie gangs, such as the Rebels, were behind the wheels of a number of trucks.
"We've intercepted trucks before that were speeding where we found associates of bikie gangs," he said.
"We've seen it at other government sites and what we're here to do is spell it out very clearly that those people won't be allowed to operate."
The trucks targeted in today's crackdown had all been sub-contracted to move soil and debris spoil from nearby WestConnex construction sites.
"We've seen three trucks which were tampered with to go over the speed limit," Superintendent Smith said.
"We've seen intentional mass loading breaches and we've seen defective trucks coming through the site."
The safety blitz was sparked by a number of serious truck accidents — the most recent was a WestConnex truck loaded with spoil that crashed on the M7 last week, trapping one person in a car and injuring four.
Superintendent Smith said while none of the trucks intercepted today were directly contracted by the NSW Government, it was still obliged to make sure they operated safely.
"Last year we had 65 deaths as a result of heavy vehicle interaction on the road system," he said.
"We are simply not going to tolerate whatever operator, whether it be government or private, to operate in such a way that it places motorists at risk."
Codenamed Operation Catapult, the crackdown is part of a major multi-agency involving highway patrol police and inspectors from the Roads and Maritime Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and WorkSafe.
The taskforce also involves officers from Strike Force Raptor, who are investigating links between the trucking companies and outlaw bikie gangs.
"WestConnex will continue to work with the taskforce and will support any action taken as a result of the investigation," a Sydney Motorway Corporation spokesperson said.
"Rogue heavy vehicle operators will not be tolerated on WestConnex.
"We fully support the NSW Government's Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce and its efforts to stamp out unlawful behaviour amongst heavy vehicle operators working in NSW."