Bring it on

Bring it on

I am a firm believer in the tenacity of South Africans as a whole and our industry in particular. As such, I believe that 2014 is going to be a GREAT year!

I am writing this column at an exceptionally difficult time in our country’s history. As I tap on the keyboard, Nelson Mandela’s body lies in state. The nation is in a state of shock. We still cannot believe that we have lost our beloved Madiba.

While the nation as a whole mourns (and even, it seems, the skies are crying … we are enduring relentless rain), the situation within our industry is equally sombre. As I move from meeting to meeting within our industry, there is one recurrent theme: fear. We fear that the already fragile economy of South Africa will be brought to its knees in 2014. We fear that the unions will beat it to death while it’s already down and out. We fear that the rand will plummet even further. And we fear that, as a result, some companies may not survive.

“It’s going to be a very, very difficult year,” is the consensus of opinion wherever I go.

Well I just refuse to accept this. I simply do not believe that our country, or our industry, will curl up and die: 
and here’s why. We are a nation of fighters! We have achieved minor miracles time and time again. Some major ones too: just think back to the dawn of democracy in our country. I am sure you recall those white South Africans, who stocked up on tinned goods – because, after all, once we had a black (shock, horror) government, we would need 
to go in hiding. Because “They” would hunt “Us” down and kill “Us”. (“They” are the black guys; “Us” refers to 
the whiteys.)

That didn’t quite happen, now did it? This is why our February issue is devoted to 20 years of democracy. We think that those two decades are worth celebrating – because they have been a damn fine 20 years.

Now let’s fast-forward some 19 years – to the start of 2013. Do you remember the predictions? “It’s going to be a very, very difficult year,” was the prediction for 2013. (Sound familiar?) Vehicle sales were expected to remain stagnant – at best.

And it was certainly a challenging period. We had the unions behaving like spoilt brats, the politicians behaving like spoilt parents of the country, the rand being pummelled, e-tolls and, of course, the death of our beloved Madiba.

But vehicle sales were not quite as bad as expected – to the contrary. In fact, they surprised and exasperated some enormously clever planners, who kept insisting that the market would turn … and end up in the doldrums.

It never did – thankfully. At the time of writing this there are still two and a half weeks to go before the end of the year … but things are looking surprisingly good for 2013.

And that’s the reason why I refuse to accept that 2014 is going to be another “very, very difficult year”. South Africans in general and the transport industry in particular are resilient. We have bounced back time and time again. And this is what will happen in 2014. Bring it on!

THANK YOU GAVIN           

When I began to pen this column, I actually felt guilty – because this fine publication is thanks to the exceptionally hard work of our enormously talented and capable assistant editor, Gavin Myers (and not me). As such, Gavin should probably have written this column. But I could not pass up the opportunity to “chat” with our readers …

However I would like to acknowledge his efforts and pay tribute to Gavin for a job well done. On behalf of the team at Charmont Media and also on behalf of all our readers, who refer to the Transport Manager’s Handbook on a daily basis, thank you Gavin!

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