South Africa’s transport minister, Fikile Mbalula, states that his department is planning to further try and control road freight in South Africa. This comes about as large trucks have been taking up a lot more space on the roads and have become a regular sight on a daily basis.
At a media briefing which took place on Sunday 12 June, Mbalula stated that road freight transport has increased by 48% over the last ten years, with heavy goods vehicles now making up 34% of all traffic on the N3 highway.
He spoke about heavy goods vehicle crashes which are now equal to the number of light vehicle crashes. He made it clear that he is concerned that the levels of current enforcement are not able to keep up with the growth of the traffic, and that it is ultimately aggravating the cost to the economy.
Mbalula believes that further management of this industry is needed as these trucks contribute towards loud noises, accidents, pollution, and damage to infrastructure. Additionally, Mbalula stated that rising fuel costs and labour issues have been pressuring operators into taking illegal shortcuts on vehicle maintenance issues, overextending vehicle life, and overloading these vehicles.
The minister made a statement pertaining to a regulatory overhaul of the current rules around this sector and the creation of a new road agency specifically aimed at regulating road freight. The government plans on introducing additional labour regulations in the sector, an example being to make it compulsory for operators to register their workers and prioritise South African employees.
Currently, we do not have such a system in place to monitor the performance of commercial road freight operations in our country. He believes that regulating commercial transport as a separate activity from road traffic management is a necessary step to take as these various transport activities take place in the shared public space.
The minister shared his thoughts on deficiencies in the legislation and regulatory systems which were previously developed and have now become more evident as the industry has expanded and changed in response to the economies demands.