The transportation of containers by road has been thrown into chaos by the Department of Transport enforcing legislation that bans truck trailers commonly used in South Africa from carrying international standard “high cube” containers. These containers account for more than 50 percent of all containers transported.

The Road Freight Association (RFA) said at least 80 vehicles had been impounded by 10am on Thursday in Pinetown by the Road Traffic Inspectorate.

Vehicles were also being impounded in Heidelberg and there were now more than 50 vehicles standing at one unidentified weighbridge alone. The RFA said that transport operators were refusing to transport the “high cube” containers because they would incur fines and their equipment would be impounded, leading to containers stacking up in the port of Durban.

Demurrage charges of between R1 000 and R2 000 a day are levied on containers while in the port. Kevin Martin, the Vice-Chairman of the Harbour Carriers division of the KwaZulu-Natal SA Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), said it would “constitute a logistical and financial disaster of biblical proportions for South Africa” to suddenly have more than 50 percent of these containers standing because local road hauliers could not legally transport them.

Mr Martin said 65 percent of every rand earned for South Africa was via sea trade and the container terminal in Durban was the largest in the southern hemisphere, accounting for more than 65 percent of all container traffic.

He said the SAAFF had for more than five years been trying to get legislation changed to accommodate transportation of these containers by road within South Africa.

These containers had been foisted onto the country by international trends towards phasing out the old conventional 12m container, added Mr Martin. He believed the 12m containers were no longer being manufactured anywhere in the world.

Source: ( 20091211)

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