Editor's Letter

Change is in the Air

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Welcome to another edition of South Africa’s favourite logistics quarterly, as we celebrate 20 fruitful years of the Road Ahead, with many changes sweeping the industry since 1997.

Technology has exploded since then, with a plethora or tracking and surveillance assistance helping fleet managers keep better tabs on their operations. Technology has also improved skills development, with driver behaviour being tracked by the minute. There is no room for speeding and non-compliance in today’s industry when you are working for law-abiding companies.

We are seeing more positive reinforcement of economical driving, bonus systems are now in place for the most efficient and punctual drivers. Time is money in this game, and with margins being ever tighter it is essential that companies save at every opportunity.

The wellness of drivers has improved over the last 20 years, and more attention is being given to a balanced lifestyle, regular rest stops and the reduction of driving while under the influence. You could argue that SA’s roads should be safer than ever, but as with everything, not all fleet owners do things by the book. Some will plot routes for their drivers to avoid weighing stations so they can overload and miss toll roads, forcing the drivers to take dangerous back roads and negotiate dangerous mountain passes that their trucks are not designed for, increasing the chance of a crash.

We still see countless un-roadworthy vehicles booming between Joburg and Durban, the drivers are not licensed and trucks are overloaded. It is essential that police know what to look for when pulling over trucks. A colleague of mine, Patrick O’Leary, is doing a tremendous job working with police to better train officers to keep un-roadworthy trucks off the road.

Having said that, reputable logistics companies in SA follow the rules and are some of the best in the world. This is evident in the many homegrown logistics companies expanding into Africa and beyond. However, the industry is feeling the pinch of rising operational costs and political uncertainty. The sooner we get some leadership that inspires confidence and more FDI the better.

In Interns of transformation, 20 years was a mere three after the first democratic election and empowerment policies had not kicked-in yet. Currently, we are slowly seeing more and more black-owned logistics companies. You could argue that the municipalities of SA have the largest multiracially owned fleets of trucks, if you consider the many functions of the cities and towns of this great land.

So here’s to another 20 years, happy trucking.

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