The threat of disruption on the N3 towards Durban has become an added concern for equine cargo carriers who already have to cope with the safe transit of prime specimen horses and carriage capacity that is halved from allowing a roomy two berths per animal.
Speaking to Freight News ahead of the Durban July on Saturday, July 2, Peter Choice of Choice Carriers said: “Like any transporter we are confronted with all the problems of the road.
“Strict maintenance is key to restrict breakdowns.
“Along all routes we have maintenance response teams and vets standing by to take care of a breakdown and tend to the animals.”
Lately there has been the added problem of highway protest blockages – particularly between Mooi River and Ashburton on the N3.
Choice says transporters must have a reliable real-time intelligence-gathering network to stay on top of looming protests to work around them.
“We have had reason for the local traffic police to intervene to help us turn a vehicle around and allow it to return to home base or find an alternative route because of a protest.
“Generally, our relationships with the traffic authorities along our routes are good and they also have an obligation to assist us as we are carrying live cargo.”
He says the industry’s biggest fear when any trip is undertaken is an accident.
Drivers are governed by strict limitations and requirements to overcome the potential problem of fatigue but they cannot account for any other vehicles on the road.
“It is hard to put a value to the horses, which must all be insured as they are the top in the country but they are extremely valuable,” he said.
The longest hauls are between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth to and from Johannesburg and Durban, which can require an overnight stopover at Bains Equestrian in Bloemfontein.
On the road, vehicles have a driver and co-driver and up to two grooms, depending on load.
Apart from horseracing, transporters also undertake movement of horses for shows, dressage, polo and other equestrian events.
During any long haul, horses must be checked and watered at regular set intervals.