The minister of the Department of Transport, Fikile Mbalula announced plans to further regulate road freight in South Africa – as large trucks are becoming an increasing feature on the country’s roads.Speaking at a media briefing on Sunday, the minister said road freight transport has seen a 48% growth over the last decade, with heavy goods vehicles now making up 34% of all traffic on the country’s N3 highway. “It is worth noting that heavy goods vehicle crashes on that route are now on par with light vehicles. We are concerned that the levels of enforcement are not keeping pace with the growth of the traffic, thereby aggravating the cost to the economy.” Mbalula said that further regulation of this industry is necessary as these trucks are responsible for excessive noise, accidents, pollution and damage to infrastructure. He added that rising fuel costs, labour issues, and other pressures mean operators are increasingly cutting corners on vehicle maintenance issues, overextending vehicle life, and overloading.
The minister said that his department plans a regulatory overhaul of the current rules around this sector and the establishment of a new road agency specifically aimed at regulating road freight.The government also plans to introduce further labour regulations in the sector, requiring that operators register their workers and prioritising South African employees, he said. “We currently have no system for monitoring the performance of commercial road freight operations in South Africa. The regulation of commercial transport as a separate activity from road traffic management is necessary because transport activities take place in the public space. “The deficiencies in the legislation and regulatory systems which were developed at that time have become more evident as the industry has expanded and changed in character in response to the demands of the economy.”