The Department of Transport has hinted at a possible extension of the 2019 moratorium on prosecution for road hauliers who fail to meet the new container height restrictions deadline. Ngwako Thoka, deputy director of legislation at the Department of Transport (DoT), told delegates at last week’s Logistics Business Breakfast in Johannesburg that the department was currently reviewing the timeframe. The South African Association of Freight Forwarders (Saaff) and the Durban Harbour Carriers’ Association (DHCA) argued that the extra 20 centimetres of height (from 4.3 metres to 4.5 metres) added by hi-cube containers did not present an additional road accident danger. Saaff KwaZulu Natal chairman, Dave Watts, commented that independent studies had shown that the extra height would not
cause the vehicle to tip over. “Furthermore, there have been no issues driving through bridges over the past 15 years or since hi-cube containers have been on South African roads,” said Watts.
He says fleet owners would have to incur “huge costs” to change their fleets. “Is it really necessary to incur these costs? We believe we have proven that it is not and we would like
to engage with DoT to see if we cannot get this regulation scrapped,” said Watts. He told FTW that this was of particular concern for the harbour carriers around the Durban port. “Many of them are small to medium-sized enterprises that are already operating on extremely low margins and they do not have the money to invest in new vehicles or adapt their existing ones. An enforcement of this regulation would mean that many of them would have to shut up shop.” Thoka said fleet owners had been given ample time (since 2011) to make the necessary changes to their vehicles and added that he did not agree with Watts’ point about the bridges. “Most of South Africa’s bridges are designed according to the 4.3 metre restriction,” he said. That said, Thoka encouraged the industry to write a letter to the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, to state their case. The breakfast was hosted jointly by the Southern Africa Shippers Transport and Logistics Council (Satalc) and the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).