Trucks may henceforth not be allowed to deliver cargo at the Richards Bay port due to the danger these trucks pose to public safety on the roads.
According to a notice issued by Transnet, congestion on roads has reached “uncontrollable levels” that have been jeopardizing road users’ safety “for months”.
Transnet said on Friday that it is considering introducing a ban on trucks to help secure the roads in the uMhlathuze local municipality.
However, Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Road Freight Transport Association (RFA), says that instead of preventing lorries from unloading, introspection should be done as to why road congestion has reached unmanageable levels.
“The answer is simple. The rail network was allowed to collapse and now the infrastructure is completely dilapidated. The blame for this lies entirely at Transnet’s door.”
According to Kelly, Transnet has informed the RFA that the port is struggling with traffic congestion due to a poor management system, and although a truck reservation system has been implemented to create order, it does not take into account all the trucks moving through the port.
“Consequently, even when trucks have been booked, the rate at which they arrive at the port at a given time sometimes exceeds the rate at which trucks (documentation) is processed at the permit offices. This leads to the accumulation of trucks outside the port’s gates on surrounding roads and on the N2,” Transnet said.
The local municipality has also previously expressed its concern about the situation, as it does not have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the multitude of trucks. This causes further logistical problems.
Although it is not a foregone conclusion that trucks will continue to be banned, Kelly says that this decision will have far-reaching consequences.
“Businesses that rely on trucks will be diverted to other ports or close, shipping lines will go elsewhere and revenue for the country will dwindle. What will the job losses be?”
According to Kelly, Transnet said in its notice that interest groups could make suggestions on how the crisis could be resolved. The organization has already indicated that it will organize an urgent meeting with its customers and relevant interest groups to discuss the situation.
RFA’s proposal is that the ports and rail network be put under private control so that they can be managed “efficiently and sustainably”.
“The answer is private management. Decent competition is needed to ensure that goods move through and out of the country.”
The Richards Bay Transnet Port Terminal has meanwhile pledged to continue to do everything in its power to meet the needs of its customers without hindering the prosperity of its stakeholders.