Rocky road ahead

Rocky road ahead

The RFA Convention comes at a time when the industry is faced with some huge challenges…

Exorbitant toll fees, an increasing network of toll roads, the rapid deterioration of our roads, the creation of an opportunity for corruption on the back of a new driver points demerit system, the forced shift of certain goods from road to rail, increased fuel prices and the proposed Road Freight Strategy. These are just some of the growing challenges trucking operators are facing – all these have far-reaching and serious consequences for the future of trucking. The RFA Convention, taking place at the Wild Coast Sun from August 22 to 24 this year, will provide a platform for operators to speak out and express their views.

“Now more than ever, the industry needs to stand together and speak with a unified voice,” says Gavin Kelly, the RFA’s spokesperson and technical and operations manager. “Government’s approach to policy matters is to interact with organised business, preferring to deal with industry bodies and not individual companies. The RFA effectively represents the industry’s interests to policymakers, the media, and the public. It provides representation at the highest levels and presents a strong and undisputed industry voice.”

The RFA Convention, the only event of its kind on the trucking calendar, brings together trucking operators, suppliers, government representatives and other stakeholders from around the country. This year’s programme reflects the concerns highest on the industry’s agenda.

“Recent developments in the trucking industry have serious implications – both short and long-term,” says Kelly. He highlights the proposed toll fees for future toll roads as one issue that will affect operators in the short-term. The RFA estimates that operating costs of road freight operators could increase by as much as 9% – an increase that would ultimately be passed on to consumers. A fee of 50c per km is set to be charged on all passenger vehicles, while an exorbitant R3-50 per km will be levied on goods vehicles.

In the longer-term, there are crucial policy and legislation issues that will impact on strategic decisions that companies need to make. The proposed reduction in axle mass loads and the enforcement of the height restriction of high cube containers will result in operators having to change their fleets (through expensive adaptation of current vehicles or the purchasing of new vehicles) – necessitating huge capital investment. But these proposals have severe implications for the consumer (you and I) – higher transport costs due to reduced payloads, the doubling of logistics costs and more vehicles on our roads.

Another development due to affect operators in the near future is the widely anticipated points-based demerit system (AARTO). “AARTO may have unintended – and damaging – consequences for our industry,” continues Kelly. “These include potential corruption, job losses, the disqualification of drivers and unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Leaders and experts from across the trucking and business sectors will participate in this year’s event. Programme highlights include:

• “Economic Outlook for 2010 & Beyond”
• “An Analyst’s Overview of the impact of Today’s Politics on Business” – leading political commentator and journalist, David Bullard.
• “Impact of the Proposed Tolling & Rollout in South Africa” by Nazir Alli – chief executive: SA National Roads Agency Limited
• “Pricing Mechanisms in the Oil Industry” by Michael McClintock – group economist: Sasol.
• A panel discussion on “Future Trends in Logistics”. Panel participants include Terry Bantock – executive chairperson: Buildmax, Abrie de Swardt – marketing director: Imperial Logistics, and Jo Grové – chief executive: Unitrans Holdings.
• “The State of Logistics Survey” by Dr Jan Havenga – director: Centre for Supply Chain Management, Department of Logistics: Stellenbosch University.
• “The Road Freight Strategy” by George Mahlalela – director general: Department of Transport
• “Trucking Wellness – Driving the Well-being of the Industry” by Tertius Wessels – managing director: Trucking Wellness.
• A panel discussion on “The State of our Roads”. Panel participants include Garth Bolton – joint chief executive officer: Cargo Carriers, Gerhard Marais – general manager, operations and brokerage: Rotran, Con Roux – commercial manager: N3TC, Gary Ronald – head of public affairs: Automobile Association, and Paul Nordengen – ex-president: SA Road Federation

For more information on the RFA Convention, contact Nkgokeng Phetla at the RFA on
011 974 4399 or e-mail

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