Department of Transport proposes major changes to the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA), Act 93 of 1996

Department of Transport proposes major changes to the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA), Act 93 of 1996

The Road Freight Association (RFA) received a fax regarding proposed major changes to the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA), Act 93 of 1996 on 6 October 2009.

We responded with various telephonic interactions with:

(1) Author of the covering letter (we could not decipher who signed the main letter of dubious date – Aug/Sep);
(2) Clement Manyungwana (Department of Transport); and
(3) Prasanth Mohan (Department of Transport).

We have also had a face-to-face discussion with Mawethu Vilana (Department of Transport). From these discussions, the following information was gleaned:

• The circulation of the letter is in line with a new project started by the DoT (Road Freight Strategy) for which a consultant (unknown at present) has been appointed which involved the activation of a committee to look at relieving/reducing the load on the secondary network and revitalising the (rail) branch lines;

• The “proposal” to reduce single rear axle mass load from 9 000 kg to 8 000 kg is – quote: “the urgent need by treasury to look into the deteriorating network. No funds are available to continually sustain repair and research shows that the network has a five-year lifespan left before collapse. DoT has been tasked to engage Transnet on this issue to address the funding shortfall (for road repair/maintenance)”;

• Following on my comment to Clement that the reduction of single rear axle mass loads (in isolation as noted by the communication from DoT) was somewhat strange (taken the fact that multiple rear axles were not referred to) he commented that the exclusion of these was an oversight and should have been included (therefore, there is the intention to reduce these axle mass loads – 16 000 kg and 24 000 kg – as well);

• The DoT confirmed that “secondary network” referred to all public roads not proclaimed as national roads (or those identified as part of the primary network – thus, toll roads were inclusive as being part of the national road scenario);

• Both Clement and Mawethu advised that the notice was badly compiled, did not deal with all the issues and that it was “premature” in terms of the project timeline at DoT (no real detail could be gained from this comment);

• That the timeline for response was 6 November 2009;

• There was no intention to reduce passenger-carrying vehicles (buses) on these routes from 10 200 kg on rear axles, nor the fact that some of the bus rapid transit (BRT) system vehicles would use parts of the secondary network to complete transit/transport routes for the upcoming World Cup;

• The statement “prohibit the operation of certain axle loads from the secondary network and their migration to the primary network” was meant to include all loads above the 8 000 kg rear axle mass (irrespective of axles and wheels on these axles) – there is a greater implication of axle masses than noted in the correspondence;

• The “prohibition of certain commodities on both the primary and secondary road networks and the migration of same to the rail branch lines” could not be clarified or any further detail given. This was to “come from the work of the consultant”;

• Finally – the reference to the tow truck bill could also hold similar implications for the heavy vehicle recovery and towing operation.

We are writing to you to inform you of this legislation which, if implemented, could have a serious impact in our industry. It will affect operators, suppliers, manufacturers, as well as customers. Possible affects include:

• Higher pricing (end-user costs)
• Lower GVMs, reduced payloads
• Doubling the logistics costs
• More vehicles on our roads (congestion and delivery reliability)
• Changed vehicle specs

The RFA is addressing this matter with urgency and will keep you updated on the matter.

We would appreciate your comments and views on the proposed legislation.

Sharmini Naidoo
Chief executive officer, RFA

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