Road freight regulation on the cards

In a bid to bolster its logistics efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance its global competitiveness, government is intensifying efforts to shift a significant portion of its cargo transportation from road to rail. Recognising the immense potential of rail transport, the country is seeking to capitalise on this underutilised mode of transportation and implement stricter regulations on road freight.Addressing the Road Freight Association recently, Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga said with 90% of cargo in South Africa on road, the situation was unsustainable. “We are currently reviewing the National Land Transport Act (NLTA) with the primary aim of structuring the land transport systems into one uniform system with a centralised database,” she said. “The NLTA also addresses additional matters contemplated in section 146 of the constitution and aims to consolidate all land transport functions so that they can be located in the appropriate sphere of government.”Chikunga said in South Africa, contrary to international best practice, road was the only mode of transport that was not adequately regulated, as basic principles of transport regulation, and there was no effective regulation of road transport operators as business entities. “This has to change,” said Chikunga, indicating that the DoT was working with the Road Traffic Management Corporation to develop the National Operator Registration System (Nors). “The purpose of this is to reregulate the road freight sector. This is necessary in order to achieve quality-regulated competition, enhance the enforcement processes, and encourage voluntary compliance.”Chikunga said while road freight delivery had significant advantages, the number of freight vehicles on the road contributed to overloading and the significant deterioration of the road network and traffic congestion. The ‘Freight Road-to-Rail Migration Plan’ was therefore of critical importance and would rebalance the road freight–rail freight split in order to create a more appropriate market share and to reduce the number of heavy trucks on the roads to decrease overloading on the road network. “The implication is a reduction in overall transport and logistics costs and externality costs,” she said. “A major factor determining the need for restructuring of the freight transport sector is the urgent requirement for extensive recapitalisation and investment in transportation infrastructure and equipment in order to reduce the unsatisfied demand that has given rise to intermodal distortions of the transport of bulk commodities.”

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