Ed's letter - May

Prepared for the worst case scenario

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With the falling value of the rand and fluctuating fuel prices putting a strain on the economy it has not been an easy first quarter for the industry. To make matters worse the N3 has become a relative war zone, with slickly operated organised crime units targeting high value cargo at every opportunity on this busy trade route between the Port of Durban through to the economic heartland of Gauteng.

It would appear that many of the organised crime syndicates are operated by foreign nationals, who are often well educated in technology, and not registered in SA, which means it takes longer to catch them.

As we speak the battle rages on between organised crime, tracking and surveillance companies, forensics specialists, insurance companies and the police to a lesser degree, who don’t have the manpower and/or expertise to adequately patrol the area against skilled criminals.

Experts have suggested that crime on the N3 costs the economy a whopping R3 billion per annum, making it really big business. The amount of theft would also point to massive amounts of traffic on the road, which reflects a vibrant trade route, always vital for a healthy logistics sector.

Many of the top security and insurance specialists from SA are featured or have contributed to this edition of Road Ahead and share their experiences on the N3 hell run. As a result of SA’s high crime rate, our vehicle tracking industry rates are arguably the best in the world.

We hear from Tony Dobson, who will be sharing some of his insights from the USA, where he’s currently based and amazed by the number of long-haul trucks on the roads over there. But don’t be fooled by the American dream, hijacking is an ever-growing problem across the pond, and that’s why they bring in specialists from SA, the mecca of truck/cargo theft if you will.

Accidents on the N3 are another major problem, and our resident crash expert Stan Bezuidenhout estimates that accidents happen more often than hijackings. So that begs the question: If crime is costing the long-haul industry R3 billion per year, accidents must be costing more if they are more frequent. Granted the accident will sometimes only affect the truck and not the contents, but in the case of fire and serious collisions, everything is lost. This is obviously an added headache for insurance companies.

So for any logistics company looking to maximise cost cutting, you’ll need a top of the range fuel management system to avoid fuel theft, 24/7 vehicle tracking, driver surveillance and reward programmes, together with a strong relationship with your insurance company should anything go wrong. If you are operating in the wild west, you had better be prepared.

Until next time, safe trucking.

Gregory Simpson

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