It is not business as usual in the road freight sector which is under tremendous pressure to continue delivering products around the country during lockdown.
According to Gavin Kelly, CEO of the Road Freight Association, confusion surrounding operations – especially at ports and borders – is continuing and a lot of effort is being made to ensure truck operators are informed and have the latest information available.
He said that in order to assist the road freight sector the RFA had set up several Whatsapp groups comprising road freight operators and other key stakeholders including the Department of Transport (DoT), Sars Customs, the SA Police Services, the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC), toll concessionaires as well as ports authorities.
“This initiative has proved highly effective, creating a powerful network for truckers and enabling accurate information to be shared timeously – while also clarifying misunderstandings, removing bottlenecks, giving updates and sharing key contacts,” said Kelly.
The RFA has also developed and issued guidelines for the many new regulations that have been introduced in the past few weeks relating to Covid-19 and the Disaster Management Act. “These regulations cover matters such as additions to essential services, the extension of validity of licences (learners’ and drivers’), Professional Driving Permits (PrDPs), vehicle licences, roadworthiness certificates, as well as temporary permits. Our guidelines have simplified regulations, making them easier to understand and therefore quicker to implement.”
Also, said Kelly, the RFA continued to intervene when and where its members had challenges in delivering goods.
“The types of issues truckers have had to deal with include getting the necessary permits to operate, being stuck at roadblocks, being stopped in towns - despite having all the necessary documents, as well as congestion at border posts. We have also been able to clarify numerous matters such as whether all types of cargo can move in and out of ports.”
Additional challenges have also been encountered in the KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces, which closed their exemption permit offices days before the lockdown without making plans to deal with permits for essential abnormal goods.
Kelly said the RFA had engaged with the Departments of Transport in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo and permits were now being issued.
“We are still trying to resolve this matter in the North West province, which closed their offices after business on 24 March without making contingency plans for issuing permits. The RFA has been engaging with departmental staff since 27 March on this matter, but with no success. This matter has now been escalated to the Premier of the North West Province for urgent intervention.”