Components|Export|Freight|Industrial|Logistics|Manufacturing|rail|Repairs|Road|Roads|Services|System|Transnet|transport|tyres|Waste|Water|Maintenance|Manufacturing |Products|Infrastructure|Waste
Components|Export|Freight|Industrial|Logistics|Manufacturing|rail|Repairs|Road|Roads|Services|System|Transnet|transport|tyres|Waste|Water|Maintenance|Manufacturing |Products|Infrastructure|Waste

Poorly maintained roads, rail impact costs of goods

14th October 2022

By: Nadine Ramdass

Creamer Media Writer


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Badly maintained roads results in the increased cost of logistics which is exacerbated by the unreliable railway system, which results in an increase of cargo transported by road.

This cost is then borne by the consumer and drives inflation in addition to making local products less competitive in the international market, says industry organisation Road Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly.

While roads managed by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) are well maintained and facilitate efficient movement between import and export points, manufacturing and agricultural areas, as well as markets and consumers, secondary routes, regional roads and local authority jurisdictions are often in poor condition.

Secondary routes, regional roads and local authority jurisdictions often face media scrutiny owing to their declining conditions with numerous reports covering the worsening condition of South African roads. This is exacerbated by a lack of funding for maintenance and repair.

Funding at times is prioritised for other failing services such as medical facilities, water and waste treatment, says Kelly. This results in road infrastructure conditions continuing to worsen which impacts all road users, and in particular, has a significant impact on supply chains and other industrial sectors.

Owing to poor road conditions, freight fleets experience more wear and tear on vehicles, particular on its suspension, tyres and chassis. As a result, fleets require more maintenance, repairs and frequent changing of tyres and suspension components culminating in higher operating costs.

Where transporters may have got 50 000 km out of a tyre in the past, this has dropped to 30 000 km dependent on the routes used and how fast these routes deteriorate or are repaired, says Kelly.

Poor roads also affect delivery times, which impacts on vehicles being able to perform viable transport to and from destinations.

“The search for paying “return loads” from the primary destination is a huge part of any operator’s life,” says Kelly.

In some cases, owing to the nature of the loads, extra vehicles are required to ensure perishable goods – especially from the agricultural sector – are not left to rot owing to misaligned, delayed logistical arrangements. This results in more vehicles using the routes.

Further, when more vehicles are required to do the work of one, costs increase. Additionally, the volume of cargo transported on road continues to grow. This is a owing to a “lack of new rail infrastructure in new developments, cannibalised rail infrastructure and delays from the rail transport system”.

Cargo that should be transported by rail, such as timber, sugar and mealies, is transported by road because rail is often unreliable, inefficient, insecure and inaccessible.

The failure of the Department of Transport in ensuring the efficient running of Transnet Freight Rail has led to almost all freight moving by road, explains Kelly.

He explains that to resolve the challenges currently impacting the logistics sector, there is a need for proper maintenance of current infrastructure as well as the development of alternatives and an increase in capacity.

Further, infrastructure needs to be protected to ensure that it is not wilfully destroyed, pillaged and looted. Proper management of workforce procedures to remove the constant downtime owing to constant disruptions of productivity and services is also required to ensure there is a working, reliable railway system that can reduce the amount of cargo by road, concludes Kelly.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features




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