The Truckers Association of South Africa (TASA) have welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Transport to move the transportation of goods from road to rail. Having realised the limited use of road transport, we have been engaging the department for several years as part of the Task Team, profiling practical solutions for this dilemma.
Fact: Our road death toll is excessive
Fact: Our road infrastructure is overloaded with too many trucks. We must reduce road carnage and infrastructure damage for the economy to grow as there is no extra capacity to handle any increase in road volumes.
Fact: The trucking industry is not regulated which means anyone can buy a truck and operate a contract without proper understanding and attitude to road safety above profit.
TASA has noted the unsustainability of the increasing truck volumes over the long distances to ports and is embracing a solution by using RailRunner bi-modal technology to move freight to rail for the long distance, thus relieving pressure on national road infrastructure and limiting driver fatigue/ error and thereby accidents and deaths, as well as providing social benefits for drivers being localised.
Whilst it may be necessary to upgrade certain rail infrastructure and security on the rail corridors, the shift from road to rail for long distance haul will be relatively easy and cost effective using the RailRunner method. Simple terminals near source to build trains using the truck trailers and unique rail bogies, then hook and haul by either Transnet or independent locomotives to destination terminal, with a final delivery from end terminal to customers. This will also reduce carbon emissions, and, with the spiralling price of fuel, will reduce the supply chain cost of goods delivered.
The regulation of the trucking industry is overdue and needs to be implemented as soon as possible. Other transporters, such as buses and taxis are subject to regulation and permits and so should freight truckers. The possibility of using the methods of regulation currently employed for bus and taxi services are being proposed for adaptation in this regard. This can assist with regulation of local and foreign drivers, training of drivers, specification of routes and easier monitoring and compliance with road safety regulations.