The battle of the best

The battle of the best

This year’s Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport: South Africa’s (CILTSA) National Forklift Driver Competition was once again a great success, with drivers from around the country gathering to showcase their skills.

Fa-eez Swail, senior shop steward at SACD Freight in the Western Cape, was once again crowned the champion of champions of the annual CILTSA National Forklift Driver Competition, which took place at SACD in Gauteng, in late October. Swail walked away with this coveted award after beating 16 other talented forklift drivers in a tough and competitive national finals competition.

The finalists were selected through regional competitions in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

The battle of the best“The value of skilled forklift drivers must not be underestimated,” says Des Fell, one of the judges of the CILTSA Forklift Competition. “Having the correct reaction levels and 20/20 eyesight doesn’t by itself make for a good forklift driver. Today, drivers are required to operate on-board warehouse management systems, and drivers, especially those on high-level reach trucks, need to possess a very specific set of abilities. Without them, they cannot do the job”.

The recent revival by CILTSA of the competition is crucial to ensuring that all forklift operators continually upgrade their skills and continue training. As Fell explains, “The competition is designed to hone the skills and competencies of our industry’s qualified forklift drivers through practical application, with the hopes of reducing accidents and injury in the workplace.” He adds, “All competitors had to manipulate a loaded forklift over a predetermined course. The course tested their driving ability, skill and loading knowledge. The competition caters for drivers currently operating counterbalanced trucks, reach trucks and those involved in container vanning and devanning.”

Johnson Mbedzi, senior supervisor at SACD in Johannesburg, has high praise for the competition. “Since our participation in the competition, safety levels have improved. In addition, overall productivity of the drivers has also increased. Mbedzi continues, “The value of this competition should not be underestimated. Although winning is their ultimate goal, this can only be achieved by being safety conscious and skilled. Companies can leverage the strength of this.”

One of CILTSA’s core functions is that of “life-long learning” and career advancement. “The need for skilled forklift drivers is crucial – we currently haveThe battle of the best over 70 000 qualified forklift drivers in the country”, says Catherine Larkin, executive director of CILTSA.  “Diverse as our industry is, there seems to be little effort to come together as one body. But unite we must – we need a collective group of representatives working together to make logistics a good career choice for newcomers, as well as existing professionals.” Larkin believes that CILTSA – a non-political, multi-modal, international body for individuals in logistics and transport – is the ideal vehicle to facilitate this. “The revival of CILTSA’s National Forklift Competition is the first step in the right direction.”

Prizes were awarded in five categories – Champion of Champions, Counterbalance Truck, Reach Truck, Best Novice Award, and Vanning and Devanning.

And the winners are….
• Counterbalance Truck Category:
1st place – Fa-eez Swail, SACD Freight
2nd place – Milton de Bruin, Kromco
3rd place – Trevor Pietersen, Spier Wines

• Reach Truck Category:
1st place – Milton de Bruin, Kromco
2nd place – Fa-eez Swail, SACD Freight
3rd place – Hlela Zulu, Rennies Distribution Services

• Container Vanning and Devanning Category:
1st place – Fa-eez Swail, SACD Freight
2nd place – Angelo Williams, SACD Freight
3rd place – D Pillay, Bidfreight Port Operations

• Best  Forklift Driver Novice:
Trevor Pietersen, Spier Wines

Regional Competition winners:
Gauteng Regional Finalists
• Orlando Ngonyama – Makro (Woodmead)
• Godfrey Kungwane – Makro (Silver Lakes)
• Piet Baloyi – Makro (Wonderboom)
• Hosias Makgabutlane – PFG Building Glass
• Mntwanandini Koko, Thomas Ngobeni, Elias Ravele – SA Container  Depot

KZN Regional Finalists
• T G Ngidi – Commercial Cold Storage
• D E Pillay, T Mdlalose, V P Cira – Bidfreight Port Operations
• Hlela Zulu, Emmanuel Mbatha, Nishal Mackerduth, Mervin Kandasamy – Rennies Distribution Services
• Enock Mathenjwa – Zikhethele Terminal Services

Cape Town Regional Finalists
• Fa-eez Swail, Angelo Williams – SA Container Depot
• Milton de Bruin, Schawn Jacobs – Kromco
• Trevor Pietersen – Spier Wines

Fa-eez Swail, senior shop steward of SACD Freight in the Western Cape, once again proved the old saying “it’s not about age, it’s about attitude” when he was named “champion of champions” at the event.

The battle of the bestSwail has been employed as a forklift operator for 28 years. His passion for his career has not wavered; in fact, he loves the demands that being a forklift operator places on one. However, Swail firmly believes that safety should always be one’s top priority. He states that, “Safety awareness has become a contributing factor of late. The improvement in forklift technology has increased the operator’s comfort. Thus, forklift ergonomics have contributed to higher productivity.”

This is in keeping with CILTSA’s aim of the competition, which is designed to hone the skills and competencies of the industry’s qualified forklift drivers, through practical application, with the hopes of reducing accidents and injury in the workplace.

Swail has won this coveted title for many years and credits his success to the training he has and continues to receive. CILTSA wishes him well over the next year. To all future competitors, remember, a winner is someone who recognises his talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.

Diamond Sponsor:
• Acrow Racking and Shelving

Platinum Sponsor:
• Toyota Forklift

Other Sponsors
• Abbot Machine Moving and Rigging
• Barloworld Handling
• Barpro Storage
• Chep
• Grindrod Intermodal
• Linde Material Handling
• MSC Logistics
• Right Side Up Distributors
• SA Maritime School and Transport College
• SACD Freight
• Sky Raiders
• Storsure
• TrenStar
• Universal Storage Systems
• Zikhethele Terminal Services

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