South African Airways announced on Twitter that it will restart flying between limited destinations from 23rd September. This is after a year of halted operations due to failed debt repayment.
In July, the government had said that it was selling a 51% stake in the carrier to Takatso consortium, which had committed more than R3bn to bring the airline back. This contribution should be sufficient to operate the airline for 12 to 36 months.
SAA is one of several of the country’s debt-ridden enterprises that have continuously relied on the government to bail them out. SAA entered a form of bankruptcy protection in December 2019, however, its state worsened as the pandemic restricted air travel and put a greater toll on its cash flow.
“After months of diligent work, we are delighted that SAA is resuming service,” the airline said on Twitter, quoting interim chief executive Thomas Kgokolo.
To start, SAA will reopen flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo. More destinations will be added to the route network as it ramps up operations according to market conditions.
Saving South Africa’s trucking industry
Since the mass torching of trucks on the N3 Mooi River in 2018, the trucking industry has faced numerous challenges that have threatened not only the sustainability of the sector, but to some extent, the stability of the African economy. The N3 serves as the gateway to the largest and busiest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa, the Port of Durban, which handles up to 31.4 million tons of cargo per annum.
The past 18 months have not been any easier for the sector. The continuance of sporadic torching of trucks and attacks on truck drivers, service delivery protests and looting, the lockdown and various restrictions associated with the Covid 19 pandemic have further crippled the industry.
Due to the restrictions and limitation of transportation of essential goods during the hard lockdown, transporters have seen a massive drop in their turnovers, with most having to downsize and some even permanently closing. Those who are lucky enough to still be operational now must stretch their staff and chase deadlines, which places further pressure and fatigue on drivers due to the long hours on the road – a major concern.
With these challenges, Santam Heavy Haulage, as an insurance partner to the trucking industry, for example, has sought to educate both clients and brokers on how to better manage and mitigate risk to keep insurance premiums at a minimum. Insurance has traditionally been viewed as a grudge purchase, but recent events have highlighted the critical role it can play in minimising financial loss.
To be successful, businesses need to prioritise their people’s wellbeing. Drivers are the driving force behind the trucking industry. Entrusting them with assets and cargo worth millions requires that they are equipped with the necessary skills, a conducive working environment, and regular access to medical check-ups to help them make better health choices.
Mobile transportation platform DiDi to expand in other parts of SA
Ride-hailing platform, DiDi, aims to expand its service across South Africa in the coming months. SA launch lead for DiDi, Ken Liu, announced this at a recent media event held at the DiDi Driver Centre in Cape Town. DiDi offers competition for other popular driving apps, Uber and Bolt.
DiDi, which started recruiting driver-partners in Gauteng in June, will officially begin rides in Johannesburg and Pretoria from 23 August. They also have plans to further expand to Durban, KZN, before the end of 2021.
The e-hailing services app first launched in South Africa with a successful pilot run in Gqeberha (formerly P.E), in March this year. In May, services extended to Cape Town. Since then, the Chinese mobility platform has registered thousands of drivers, enabling residents to get from A to B.
DiDi focuses on providing safe and flexible entrepreneurship opportunities for drives as well as safe and reliable transportation options for riders. During a press conference, Liu emphasized the app’s safety features. “Our value proposition for our operation in South Africa is safety. For the drivers’ side it’s safety and better earnings, and on the riders’ side, it’s safety and affordability,” Lui said.
The DiDi app boasts several features for both drivers and passengers, including facial recognition, share trips with contacts, SOS button linked to police, smart geofencing for drivers to opt-out of unsafe areas and unmatch from riders for drivers and vice versa.
Stop AARTO Now, says the Road Freight Association
The Road Freight Association (RFA) is shocked and deeply concerned about the recent suspension of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Japh Chuwe, amidst allegations of “serious maladministration” by the Auditor-General. This has a severe impact on the implementation of the highly controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO), which is scheduled to be implemented in July this year.
Whilst we welcome the uncovering of corruption, it would be irresponsible and reckless for Government to proceed with the implementation of AARTO. The RFA has over the years expressed concern and uneasiness about AARTO and its susceptibility to fraud, corruption, and money laundering. The RTIA’s latest announcement is confirmation of our worst fears.
Once AARTO is implemented, the RTIA will be handling Billions of Rand. How can we now trust the entity – especially when the dishonesty and corruption is allegedly at the highest level in the Agency? We already face huge corruption, extorsion and intimidation at the hands of traffic police on a daily basis and this latest development has highlighted how rampant dishonesty is in the public service – especially in the traffic law enforcement and management structures. These allegations have undermined what little faith we had in RTIA. If the system is implemented, we envisage theft on a grand scale.
The RFA once again proposes that AARTO be shelved. The continuously amended system is all about generating revenue and not at all about road safety, which was what the system was originally about. Huge administrative resources will be required to implement and sustain an antiquated and cumbersome system, putting additional burdens on already-overburdened government authorities and the private sector.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) – another Agency of the Department of Transport – already costs motorists hundreds of millions of Rand per annum through the levy imposed on all eNatis transactions. This was supposed to be a temporary measure to get the RTMC on its feet. Like all other levies, this has become permanent with no added value to citizens. The RTMC needs to step up and do its job, that is, to manage road traffic according to proper traffic management strategies with effective centralised road safety interventions and operational management.
The RFA believes that proper traffic management strategies which focus resources to address hazardous locations and other aspects of unsafe road behaviour would be far more effective in improving road safety – rather than the current cumbersome AARTO system being proposed.
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