Looming law, lowdown

Looming law, lowdown

This year has almost run its course, but the surprises aren’t over yet … the Department of Transport has published an amendment to the National Road Traffic Regulations, in Government Gazette No. 38142, which could cause a rocky start to 2015 for some transport operators. The adjustments do have their merits, however.

According to the online road-safety information portal, Arrive Alive, most of the provisions that were covered in the draft notice (which was published on June 8, 2012), have been included in the amendment. “Schedule 1 to the Regulations contains all the forms that must be used for purposes of the legislation,” it points out. “Many forms have been added or amended.”

Some of the biggest changes include the provisions for requirements for consignors and consignees, which are explained in the newly inserted regulations – 330A to 330D – that will be implemented on January 31, 2015. “The regulations stipulate that a consignor must determine that a vehicle is legally loaded (axles and total mass),” states Arrive Alive.

The Department of Transport’s 22nd Regulation Amendment (previously referred to as the 21st Amendment) to the National Road Traffic Regulations (NRTR) defines a consignor and consignee as follows:

“A consignee, in relation to goods transported, or to be transported by a vehicle, means the person who is named, or otherwise identified, as the intended consignee of more than 500 000 kg of goods in a month, in the goods declaration for the consignment, and who actually receives such goods after they are transported by road.”

It defines a consignor as a person who is named, or otherwise identified, as the consignor of goods in the goods declaration, relating to the transportation of more than 500 000 kg of goods in a month by road, or engages an operator of a vehicle (either directly or indirectly, or through an agent or other intermediary) to transport the goods by road.

The definition adds that a consignor has possession of, or control over, the goods immediately before the goods are transported by road, or loads a vehicle with the goods for transport by road, at a place where goods are stored in bulk or temporarily held. This excludes a driver of the vehicle, or any person responsible for the normal operation of the vehicle during loading.

Sharon Smith, chief executive officer of Sasco Metrology Services, says that the regulations regarding axle weighing is going to have a huge impact on all consignors.

Here is the lowdown on what regulations 330A to 330D state … with the former stipulating that the offering and accepting of goods, on overloaded vehicles, is prohibited. “A consignor or consignee, of goods, shall not offer goods or accept goods if the vehicle, in which they are transported, is not loaded in terms of the provisions for the loading and transportation of goods as prescribed in this Act,” notes the NRTR.

It adds that a consignor must get written confirmation about the payload, and distribution of the load, on a vehicle from the vehicle operator. “A consignor or consignee shall not conclude a contract with the operator to transport goods on a vehicle, if the vehicle is overloaded when such load is transported on such vehicle,” the amendments point out.

Regulation 330B states that consignors must have a method of determining mass. “A consignor shall use a method of establishing the mass of a vehicle and any axle, or axle unit, of such vehicle that is accurate, so as to ensure that such vehicle axle or axles are not overloaded,” notes the imminent amendment. “A consignor shall keep a record of the mass of every load transported from his or her premises.”

Arrive Alive adds that a goods declaration is also required, in terms of regulation 330C, on vehicles carrying goods. Regulation 330D says that consignors and consignees are to insure goods and the vehicle that carries them: “A consignor or consignee of goods shall not transport goods, on a public road, or accept goods unless such transportation is fully insured for damages that can occur as a result of an incident.”

This isn’t the only alteration that the 22nd Regulation Amendment brought to light, as the Road Freight Association (RFA) points out. “The following came into effect immediately on Friday, October 31: provisions relating to licences, roadworthiness and loading relating to haulage tractors; verification of address for National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) users; the 80 km sign on the back of a goods vehicle of over 9 000 kg gross vehicle mass (GVM) is now compulsory; and management representatives of testing stations may now test 150 vehicles a month, instead of five a day.”

Arrive Alive adds that the amendment to regulation 215, which requires speed governors on certain vehicles – a minibus, midibus, bus or goods vehicle that has a GVM exceeding 3 500 kg – will be implemented on April 30, 2015.

“Many provisions contained in the amendment gazette have not yet been implemented and require a further notice to be published announcing the implementation date(s),” notes the online road safety information portal.

These include: requirements for driving hours and for provisional driving licences; regulations on driving schools; the amendment (to regulation 138) requiring vehicles of ten years and older to be tested for roadworthiness every 24 months; and the requirement (in regulation 139) for certain vehicles to be fitted with vehicle directional stability control devices.

It seems that 2015 could hold some massive administrative headaches as the red tape tightens around the transport industry … But was Jeremy Bentham, a British philosopher, jurist and social reformer, right? “The greatest happiness, of the greatest number, is the foundation of morals and legislation …”

The reality is that a few irresponsible operators are making stricter regulations necessary, which is creating more paperwork for those who are already doing things right.

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