Road Freight Industry Engagement
Address by Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works
Wednesday 16 October 2019
- Programme Director
- Members of the freight industry
- Officials from my Department
- Ladies and gentlemen
Programme Director, allow me to acknowledge and thank all the industry role players who are present at this event today.
It gives me pleasure to be here at such an important engagement with you all.
Road freight is the lifeblood of the Western Cape’s economy, transporting more than 80% of general freight in the province.
In the 2018/19 financial year, 1.4 million heavy vehicle entered the Western Cape. Between May and June 2019, 217 trucks entered the province via the N1 highway.
When I took over this portfolio in May, I made road safety my number one priority.
This was at a time when trucks were stoned and burned. I immediately engaged various stakeholders including the South African Long-Distance Truckers (SALT) to find constructive solutions. I am pleased to announce that our provincial traffic officers are interacting with the association to find ways of dealing with the problem and have already introduced measures on various stretches of the road.
Lately, in addition to safety challenges facing the road freight sector, several crime incidents have impacted road freight vehicles. Road freight vehicles are soft targets for criminals, who attack these vehicles, leading to loss of transported goods, damage to the vehicles, injury to drivers and loss of life.
I strongly condemn these acts of violence. Our law enforcement agencies must ensure strong action is taken against perpetrators. Anyone responsible for these actions must be brought to book and prosecuted.
Among these challenges facing the industry is also the large number of road safety incidents involving freight vehicles. The large number of heavy vehicles on the Western Cape roads has resulted in an unacceptable high number of crashes. Crashes involving heavy vehicles are often serious, causing multiple injuries, fatalities and damage to property and infrastructure. These crashes contribute to blockages to traffic flow, which have a cost to the economy because of lost productivity.
A Western Cape Freight Demand Model (FDM) developed in 2018 showed that road freight crashes, related congestion and traffic law enforcement cost the provincial economy close to R4 billion per year.
Addressing road freight safety is therefore critical to reduce the social and economic impacts of these challenges.
In many cases, road transport is the mode of choice because of its flexibility and speed. This, together with limited access to rail and comparatively poor performance of freight rail as a result of years of disinvestment, has resulted in the significant growth of the road freight sector in the thirty (30) years following its deregulation. While this growth was necessary to fulfil freight transport needs in the province and the rest of South Africa, it introduced certain challenges.
Improving road freight safety, and therefore, overall road traffic safety, requires collective efforts of several stakeholders, including all spheres of government, the road freight sector and law enforcement agents. These stakeholders must work together, coordinating initiatives to improve road freight safety.
Despite the need for such a coordinated approach, so far, the Western Cape province has had limited opportunities to bring key stakeholders together to share insights and map a way forward regarding road freight safety and security.
Bringing stakeholders like yourselves together to discuss urgent road freight safety challenges allows Government to communicate initiatives it is developing to address these issues and how other stakeholders could contribute to these initiatives.
While this engagement contributes significantly to positive road freight safety outcomes, sustained improvement requires ongoing efforts and collaboration among stakeholders.
Today’s engagement is such an important catalyst for ongoing collaboration among stakeholders to improve freight transport outcomes in the Western Cape.
I thank you.