Dec 022012

Dear IFRTT Forum subscriber

A very successful HVTT12 conference in Stockholm has come and gone, and preparations for HVTT13 in October 2014 in San Luis, Argentina, are well underway.  As you have already been informed, the HVTT12 papers are available on the IFRTT website,

In my first IFRTT newsletter in July 2010, I gave an account of the excessive delay our family experienced at the Botswana border post during a road trip to Namibia. In particular, I mentioned the negative impact such delays experienced by heavy vehicles have on regional road transport efficiency.  Since then, there has been some progress – the first one-stop border post at Chirundu, between Zambia and Zimbabwe opened in late 2010 – but generally speaking the situation has not improved much.  To cite an example, the average time and cost for importing and exporting containers in the SADC and COMESA regions are 35 days and USD 2125 respectively.  The equivalent stats in the EU are 16.3 days and USD 1056 (Border Posts, Checkpoints and Intra-African trade: Challenges and Solutions, AfDB, Jan 2012).

At the beginning of November I attended a two-day stakeholder’s workshop in Harare to explore govt. and industry support for running a pilot project on a section of the North-South Corridor (between Lusaka, Zambia and Durban, S. Africa) based on the South African Road Transport Management System (RTMS).  This is an accreditation system, very similar to the recently-published ISO 39001, which aims to improve load control, vehicle maintenance and driver wellness in the heavy vehicle industry through self-regulation, with outcomes that include improved road infrastructure protection, road safety performance and transport efficiency.  The number of trucks participating in the scheme in S. Africa has increased from 2000 in March to 3000 in November.  The proposed “cross-border RTMS” pilot project, which may commence in early 2013 and involve 6 to 10 cross-border operators, would include compliance with the international AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) scheme as part of the certification requirements.  Potential benefits for certified operators would include fast-tracking through weighbridges and border posts, thereby reducing costly delays currently experienced by cross-border operators.

The most recent Time magazine (3 Dec) has as its cover story “Africa Rising” with the sub-title “It’s the world’s next powerhouse. But huge challenges lie ahead”. The article sites 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa with a real GDP growth of more than 4% during 2011, albeit from generally low bases. Ghana tops the list at 14.4%.  However, in my view, strong government leadership and fiscal and procurement discipline are keys to Africa becoming a significant player in the world economy.   And of course, improved heavy vehicle transport efficiency can play a major role in this equation!

After an unusual winter, with the heaviest snowfalls in decades recorded in some parts of the country (on one particular day we had snowfalls in all 9 provinces; and it was the first time I have seen snow falling in Pretoria – evidences of climate change?), we are well into summer, and the whole country is gearing up for the summer holidays when schools close at the end of this week.

All the best and drive safely

Paul Nordengen

IFRTT President

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