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Published: 08 Jun 2007
|Radebe: Launch of Donkerhoek Weighbridge (08/06/2007)|
| Date: 08/06/2007
Source: Department of Transport
Title: Radebe: Launch of Donkerhoek Weighbridge
Launch of Donkerhoek Weighbridge by Mr Jeff Radebe, Minister of Transport
As the transport family we continue to uphold transport as the heartbeat of our economic development and social investment. Our road and rail networks continue to be the backbone of our economy. It is therefore logical that our duty should be to ensure that we preserve and protect these networks to propel our economy to greater heights.
Our capital expenditure on road networks has increased over the years. In the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period we are investing R5,5 billion for the development and preservation of our National Road Infrastructure. It is also our responsibility to ensure that our road network is not forced to carry more than it can as it has always been the case in the past years.
According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the road damage caused by heavy vehicle overloading has been estimated to cost the economy more than R600 to R800 million per annum.
This results to increased hazards on our roads and huge implications in terms of turnaround time and cargo throughput thereby increasing the cost of doing business in our country.
Our current reality as government is that we are confronted with various forms of overloading such as repeat overloading by the same operators and severe overloading up to and beyond 100%. So far we have 104 weighbridges throughout the country and heavy vehicle operators have also become experts in the practice over time. Some are budgeting for admission of guilt fines in the event of being caught. And they are also studying escape routes to inform the selection of routes for cargo transport and in some instances they use backup vehicles to offload when caught and reload upon release.
National Overload Control Strategy (NOCS)
This situation cannot continue unpunished and it has to stop. The question is, how? My Department, in close co-operation with the provincial road traffic authorities has developed and is currently implementing the NOCS to protect our road infrastructure, to improve road safety and to ensure seamless movement of cargo. We have set aside more than R20 million to implement this strategy which is also in line with our Road Safety Strategy, the Infrastructure Strategic Framework for Roads and the Freight Logistics Strategy.
Our main focus is to improve weighbridge infrastructure which involves the development and upgrading of overload control infrastructure in strategic locations across our road network.
Through the National Road Traffic Act, we are investigating ways of extending the liability for overloading beyond operators and ensure that cargo consignors and consignees take ownership and face the full might of the law. We have also reviewed the 5% tolerance to 2% of the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) in line with the recommendations of a weighbridge survey that was conducted during the development of the National Overload Control Strategy.
Inroads are being made within the insurance industry to brand over loaders as high risk and for them to carry steep insurance premiums in an effort to discourage overloading.
Both the departments of transport and justice are also upgrading the guidelines for public prosecution in order to elevate the profile of overloading offences and to ensure stiff penalties for offenders.
We have also developed guidelines in co-operation with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) as part of the promotion of self-regulation in the heavy vehicle industry which is intended to foster a partnership to ensure proper load management, vehicle roadworthiness and driver fitness.
Guidelines are already in place for the training of law enforcement officers to ensure that they are adequately qualified and trained to execute overload control effectively. This includes the improvement of training material at traffic colleges as well as the upgrading of operational manuals for overload control.
My Department is currently conducting research on various options of introducing portable weighing equipment to continuously improve this technology in order to offer desired accuracies for not only heavy vehicle screening but also for prosecution purposes.
A new administrative fee will be introduced in the near future over and above traffic fines for damage caused on the roads. The intention is to strike a balance between the amount of damage that heavy vehicles inflict on the road network and the fines imposed on overloading culprits.
In order to accelerate the implementation of our National Overload Control Strategy we are already implementing specific projects throughout the country. Our priority is to upgrade provincial weighbridge infrastructure and particularly to target offenders who are using the provincial road network as alternative routes to avoid weighbridges.
We have also begun with a self-regulation initiative in partnership with the private sector. We have particularly started the implementation of this initiative with the timber industry and we intend to expand into other industries. And currently we are looking in the direction of coal, paper and pulp industries.
We are also in the process of establishing a special overload control unit which will target the worst over loaders in South Africa both in terms of severe overloading and repeat overloading.
This unit will use mobile load control units which can be deployed anywhere with weighing scales to enable 93 on the spot 94 charging and also producing evidence that will be admissible in court for prosecutions.
Launch of Donkerhoek Traffic Control Centre (TCC)
The centre we are launching today is a clear demonstration of the promotion of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) as part of increasing the role of the private sector in the provision of overload control infrastructure and the supply of hi-tech equipment for overload control operations.
The Donkerhoek TCC is just but one of many initiatives being introduced to preserve our road network. This is the last traffic control centre facility on the section of the N4 between Pretoria and the Republic of South Africa/Mozambique border. Overloading in this area is standing at 30 to 35%. In the network comprising of the N4, the R25 and R104 the average daily truck traffic is 2 500. This means that about 850 trucks are overloaded in this corridor on a daily basis.
At other similar facilities such as Heidelberg and further east on the N4 overloading was at similar levels and with the introduction of these modern, technologically advanced facilities levels of overloading have been reduced to 1%. I have no doubt that this facility will be similarly successful.
This facility is also a concrete example of good co-operative governance and partnerships. The Gauteng Department of Community Safety has provided the law enforcement resources, while the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) has procured the construction of this facility and the services of the operator.
This centre will be operated by the Concessionaire Trans African Concessions (TRAC), giving them a direct interest in the road for which they are responsible.
I can also assure you that in this facility we have installed the best screening equipment inside the toll lanes at the Diamond Hill toll plaza. All heavy vehicles are compelled to drive through the screened lane to check for possible overloading and if detected the vehicles are redirected to this centre. This facility also has a vehicle testing facility for vehicle fitness. And drivers will also undergo a basic eyesight, alcohol and drug test.
Distinguished guests, we cannot allow billions of investment on the road infrastructure to be flashed down the drain due to overloading. The time is now for all stakeholders to act as a collective in improving self regulation but also in dealing with habitual offenders, once and for all.
I thank the timber industry for their forthright participation and look forward to other consignees joining this initiative to preserve and make our roads safer. I also thank the Gauteng province and our law enforcement officers for their dedication and commitment to make our roads safe.
I thank you!
Issued by: Department of Transport
8 June 2007