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Please find herewith extract taken from the FTW Online, for your information

Durban HeadA battle could be brewing as the container industry prepares to take on the department of transport (DoT) about what it describes as an “unnecessary and extremely costly” ruling from the authorities. At issue is the department’s demand for the country’s container transport industry to get rid of all the 1.5-1.6 metre flat-deck and modern skeletal trailers currently used by contractors to transport the hi-cube containers – and replace them with lower, 1.25-1.3m old skeletal trailers, or the costly modern equivalent. The DoT’s logic behind this demand is fourfold. It says that the current trailers hauling hi-cubes make for an unstable load. That these are too high for warehouses and too high for fuel station roofs. Their final argument is that, when roads are resurfaced, they will be heightened – and hi-cubes are then likely to hit bridges. But the road transport industry, and its representative body, the Road Freight Association (RFA), has rejected these arguments. As Kevin Martin, chairman of the Durban Harbour Carriers’ Association (DHCA), said: “This may be true historically, but that’s all it is – part of ancient history.” “The RFA as presented and we have accepted, independent reports which prove conclusively that stability is no longer a problem,” he added. He also argued that, over the past 30 years, almost all warehouses had been built or redesigned to take the 6m height of the present trailer/hi-cube combinations. And fuel stations are all built to afford up to 6m clearance.

As for the road resurfacing argument, the truckers once again rejected it. Said Martin: “The standard practice is, when resurfacing a road, the old tar layer is scraped off and recycled for further use. So there is no increase in height.” These arguments, he said, were out of date dogmatism. “The super link trailer was specifically designed to carry containers – including hi-cubes – some 30-plus years ago,” he said, “and they have always had 1.5-1.6 m decks. By definition, this has meant that ramps have had to be built or adapted to accommodate them. “The dock seals at cold stores have also long been adapted to accommodate the hi-cube on a 1.5-1.6 m trailer.” Added to this is the fact that, back in those old days, hi-cubes were an exception rather than the rule. But now, almost 100% of the 40 foot (12m) containers entering the country are now hi-cubes, and none of the predicted dire consequences have taken place. And no container manufacturers in the world are now making standard 40ft general purpose (GP) boxes. They are all hi-cubes. “So,” said Martin, “why is the DoT insisting on outdated and unproven arguments?” The battle that is due is because this DoT ruling has been put on a moratorium that is due to end on January 1, 2019. The first line of attack is to get the entire container industry together to prepare for the battle. And, to guide this process, the diplomatic voice of Dave Watts, the maritime director of the SA Association of Freight Forwarders (Saaff), has been elected to lead the lobbying group. “We have sent out invitations to a broad spread of people in the industry to attend a meeting in about a month’s time,” he told FTW. “The important guys are the hi-cube, 40ft container users – especially the reefer guys who are entirely committed to this type of box. “The meeting will be designed to decide on the course to be followed in lobbying the appropriate parties.” He also defined what the initial battle plan was designed to overcome. “In the next four years,” he said, “the entire transport industry is expected to change its whole trailer fleet. A cost that many truckers feel would put a lot of transporters out of business. “The department is also expecting the terminal, depot and warehouse industry sectors to lower the height of their loading ramps to accommodate the 1.25-1.3m trailers. And that’s again a costly problem, as it’s much more difficult to lower a height rather than raise it.”