Wednesday, June 2, 2010

South African Truck Freight Row Brews

Road Tolls Slammed by Hauliers Association
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA – An argument familiar to hauliers and their representatives is heating up after new road toll tariffs were introduced in March, with more toll road scheduled over the coming years. As in Britain, and indeed other countries world wide, the increased cost of shipping cargo on the nation’s highways has been declared a regressive move by the nations trucking representatives, the Road Freight Association (RFA).

The RFA believe that the increasing reliance on privately funded infrastructure projects on the part of the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) will mean serious repercussions for smaller delivery firms particularly and make operations less competitive whilst fuelling inflation. The new rates can reach R280 (£25) for the largest vehicles on some motorways.

For their part SANRAL point out the necessity to upgrade the country’s highway network as quickly as possible and give the example of 2008/09 when funds required to maintain the network were put at R6.7 billion. Only R4.2 billion was actually forthcoming meaning many projects to upgrade were left unfinished.

Private investment can be obtained for toll projects as many investors view them as a safe long term bet and the rising traffic levels across the country, up 20% in some provinces in an eight year period to 2008, make action to maintain and extend the system imperative. SANRAL currently has several significant Toll Road projects on the blocks including sections of the N17, N1, N2, N4,R30 and the Dube Trade Port. Several others have been recently completed including the N3 Toll Road project and the landmark Nelson Mandela Bridge in Newtown, Johannesburg.

Despite the objections of the hauliers it seems that the Toll Road projects will form an integral feature of the South African transport network for the foreseeable future and, as their British counterparts will testify, once tolls are established it is a rare thing for them to be withdrawn once a scheme has recouped the initial costs.

Photo: N2 ‘Wild Coast’ route.