A growing number of drivers and operators of heavy machinery are not certified and do not have licenses to drive and operate heavy machinery according to government sources.
A week ago, an accident involving a Hiab truck which tipped over on its side prompted an investigation by BCN news into how drivers and operators of heavy machinery get their licenses and discovered that many drivers and operators of heavy machinery are not licensed.
All vehicles on the island including heavy machinery are registered with the Niue Police however, they do not have a test specifically for drivers and operators of heavy machinery.
The only licensed drivers of heavy machinery on the island are the employees of the Outside Services division of the Department of Transport and the employees of the Niue Fire Rescue Services.
These two departments have their own heavy machinery certification requirements. According to the Director of Transport Sonya Talagi, this is the responsibility of the Outside Services Supervisor with very strict teaching and testing protocols. The employee will only be allowed to sit the heavy machinery road test with the Niue Police if the Supervisor has approved it after passing the department requirements.
According to the Police, the Fire Rescue employees also undergo their own heavy machinery testing before the Police can test them on the road and issue their licence to drive a heavy machinery.
In the past the government was the only importer of heavy machinery until about a few years ago, when private businesses started to import their own heavy machinery, such as Hiab trucks, loaders and excavators.
Recently, other government agencies such as the Power Corporation and the governments state owned enterprises like Telecom Niue started to import their own heavy machinery.
A very few of the private business employees are New Zealand certified and licensed to drive and operate heavy machinery, but the majority of the new drivers are not licensed.
The concern now is that these drivers of heavy machinery are not licensed because they are not employees of the Outside Services division nor the Fire Rescue services which leaves them and the public at risk of injury because they are not undertaking the proper skills testing protocols for operating heavy machinery.
Director Transport Ms Sonya Talagi told BCN News that they have started discussions with the Niue Police department about updating the 1965 Transport Act to cover a number of issues such as classification of heavy machinery. As well as to improve the licensing process and make sure that all drivers and operators of heavy machinery are skilled in driving and operating the heavy machinery before they can qualify to take the test for their license.