A meeting to explore formalising the use of high cube containers to meet international trends and avoid insurance issues has still not been held between the National Department of Transport (NDoT), Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and the Road Freight Association (RFA).
The RFA told Freight News in October 2022, that the task team had not convened for a year, leaving road freight professionals in a difficult position. The three bodies are on a task team representing stakeholders who are seeking a resolution.
The RFA confirmed to Freight News this week that there had still been no movement, and 17 months had now passed without any progress on dealing with the high cube challenge.
“No meetings were held and no progress is being made on this matter. As it stands right now, the maximum overall height is 4,3m,” the RFA said in a statement.
The problems began when the NDoT expressed concern about the height of the containers. It believed the 150mm higher centre of gravity might affect load stability. Sixteen months ago the NDoT came up with the idea that high cube containers should be part of the department’s drive to move goods from road to rail. This idea did not consider the first and last mile that would still require transporting the containers on a public road.
TFR was present at the last meeting convened to discuss the issue on 18 October 2021.
One of the major suspicions of the road freight industry – that the stalling was an effort to drive container traffic from road on to rail – has been discounted as Transnet conceded it does not have the capacity to deal with high cube containers on rail and won’t have capacity for the foreseeable future. At that stage the NDoT was again requested to address the legislative gap that exists, because regulation 224 (b) is in effect until it is either suspended, repealed or changed in a Government Gazette.
This regulation makes it illegal to transport high cube (International Organisation for Standardisation) containers at a laden height exceeding 4 300mm. At present there is no commitment to place a moratorium on the enforcement of Regulation 224 (b) until such time as a way forward is agreed.
Already 90% of containers used to move freight worldwide are high cube, but in South Africa it is currently an offence to load above 4.3 metres, and that the ‘consignors/consignees’ are contravening regulations. Other risks include possible insurance repudiation in the event of an accident involving the transport of the high cube containers.