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Five biggest risk factors to the freight transportation industry in South Africa.



Cargo truck on the road in motion

As a producing nation, the logistics industry is our economic backbone. As such its important to keep our main forms of cargo transportation working in the most efficient state possible however there are various risk factors that can negatively affect this transportation industry.

These risk factors can affect your ability to maintain a working fleet, and quite possibly halt entire fleets of trucks.

This article will focus on ground freight services and explore the 5 major challenges freight transportation services face in South Africa.

1. Truck driver hijackings in South Africa.

Starting things off with one of the top threats that affect transportation, states that according to Statista there were 4983 truck hijackings between the period of 2018 to 2021.

Not only is this a huge loss for the various companies transporting goods, but it also brings the industry’s ability to move cargo into question. This is also a safety concern from the point of view of the truck drivers themselves, as very few people wish to work at a job that could put their life at risk.

This element of risk was put on full display during the July 2021 riots when trucks were looted and torched making this issue one of the more unpredictable risk factors on this list and one of the most damaging to both the reputation of the transportation industry, and the value of the cargo that is lost.

2. Trucker strikes / indirect strikes.

Strikes can have a huge impact on not only the economy, but also the freight transportation industry as well, these can either take the form of direct strikes from truck drivers themselves which have a more direct impact on the industry, or through indirect strikes affecting any number of routes.

In the case of third-party strikes, these disrupt freight services by shutting down transport routes or preventing drivers from getting to and from their destinations.

This is a problem because in the event of a strike which affects major transport routes goods services may either need to be diverted which could cause a further fuel cost or halted in place once the trucks reach the area affected.

3. South Africa’s Poor Road infrastructure and its effects on the health of your fleet.

The poor state of roads is not only a concern for the daily driver, but also a problem that the freight industry in South Africa is affected by.

The cost of fixing damage done to all types of vehicles needs to be a consideration when planning what routes, the drivers will take. this can be especially costly if you need to regularly have your fleet repaired.

The last cost of this is the time off road. Every day that a portion of your fleet of trucks cannot reliably deliver goods is money lost.

A few of these concerns are detailed in a news24 article which focuses on food transport, where it is explained that trucks that get stuck on poorly maintained roads often have to be towed out, in addition this can result in the road becoming impassable for other vehicles on that road.

4. The cost of fuel on freight transportation services.

The rising cost of fuel is another concern that heavily affects the logistics industry. You need to consider what cost will be passed onto the consumer and if certain products will even be viable in their respective target market after these transportation costs are considered.

This may be a big consideration for potential clients depending on the current cost of fuel, and how much of that cost their consumers will be able to reasonably tolerate before they simply can’t buy the product in question.

When you consider that the vast majority of South Africa’s goods are transported via trucks due to the crumbling railway infrastructure, the cost of fuel becomes a much larger problem that will inevitably be passed onto consumers.

From a transport industry standpoint this may mean less clients are able to invest in sending their products over long distances, and ultimately less business will flow into the transportation industry.

5. Dangerous drivers.

Finally we need to talk about the high number of motor vehicle accidents on South Africa’s roads –  because as we all have seen, people tend to drive recklessly, particularly around the festive seasons as BusinessTech reported in 2022 alone over 1400 lives were lost in the festive season alone.

This is a major problem not only because of the huge loss of life but because just like ordinary South Africans on the road truck drivers are often caught in the middle or directly involved in the cause of these collisions.

Not only is this a serious risk to the lives of the road users and truck drivers themselves, but it’s also a risk factor in respect to potential damage or complete destruction a crash can cause to cargo, and delays to delivery.


While not all these risk factors are an everyday occurrence, these 5 elements represent some of the major factors to consider when planning an effective risk mitigation strategy for truck transportation in South Africa.

Not all these factors can be placed in one’s control at any given time however, it is especially important to keep an eye on the situation on the ground, so that you and your fleet can respond quickly, and effectively to situations that place your fleet and you drivers at risk.


1. What are the challenges of freight in South Africa?

The main challenges to freight transportation in South Africa are Power outages causing traffic congestion, Poor road Infrastructure, Rising fuel costs, and Road safety concerns.

2. What are the problems with transportation in South Africa

The main problems with transportation in South Africa in 2023 are Rolling blackouts which cause and compound congestion, Road infrastructure deficiencies, High transportation costs caused by the rising cost of fuel, High rates of vehicle theft or hijacking.

3. How can transportation risk be reduced?

By implementing better driver education programs, we can equip drivers with the skills necessary to actively make safer driving decisions while on the road.

Technology can be used to track driver behaviour, speed, and route. This data can be used to identify improvements in both safe driving behavior’s and identify less risky routes to use.

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New Multimodal Inland Port Association Launched at Transport Forum



Railway freight train in South Africa

A significant milestone was reached in the South African logistics sector with the recent launch of the Multimodal Inland Port Association (MIPA). This new association was launched during the Transport Forum, an online event on 23 May 2024 attended by over 250 delegates, with a distinguished panel from industry, Transnet and academia. The event marked what many are calling the dawn of a rail renaissance in the country.

MIPA addresses a critical need in South Africa’s logistics landscape, which is increasingly grappling with rising costs and severe congestion. The association aims to act as the unified voice for inland ports across the nation, focusing on promoting, supporting, and advocating for the increased movement of cargo from road to rail.

Warwick Lord, MIPA

“Transporting more cargo by rail has become an imperative, considering the growing cost of logistics in South Africa. It is no longer just a nice-to-have,” says Warwick Lord, MIPA Chairman.

MIPA aims to reform the rail industry through private investment, foster trade activities that meet social objectives, and facilitate the crucial transfer of goods from road to rail. By optimising industrial and logistics activities through efficient multimodalism, logistics costs will be reduced, and efficiency will be improved.

Formed by leading entities in the transportation sector, including the Cato Ridge Inland Port, Tambo Springs Development Company, Portfutures, Autoforce, Mac Group, Cape Town Inland Port, the Cape Winelands Airport, the Musina Intermodal Terminal, RailRunner South Africa, and RailRunner Services, the association is committed to collaborating on best practices, particularly in through private sector participation (PSP). It will work closely with government and state-owned enterprises.

“We aim to create one voice for inland ports, driving workable multimodal solutions that deliver efficiency, cost reduction, and much-needed resilience to the South African supply chain. By doing so, we can mitigate the impact of external shocks and ensure stability in the logistics sector,” says Lord.

MIPA’s strategy to drive more cargo from road to rail includes using innovative multi-nodal technology and improving collaboration with other freight hubs and stakeholders, to optimise each supply chain link from a cost and efficiency perspective.

“Inland ports increase accessibility through long-distance transport corridors, leading to lower distribution costs and improved capacity by consolidating freight volumes,” explains Lord. “These multi-modal terminals can handle large amounts of cargo continuously, allowing sea ports to extend their cargo base, which is crucial given the increasing size of vessels.”

Furthermore, inland ports provide significant dedicated logistics developments, proximity to rail and highways, ample truck parking, and less traffic congestion.

Lord says MIPA is dedicated to facilitating free trade and promoting sustainable practices. The association will support its members in complying with sustainable development goals and the SADC Vision 2050.

Dr Juanita Maree

Dr Juanita Maree, CEO of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), highlighted the launch of MIPA: “Our logistics network is at a turning point, with more alignment across the country than ever before. By working together, we can achieve significant advancements. It is crucial to continuously foster dialogue, share insights, and raise awareness to build a sustainable supply chain for the future.”

According to Lord, MIPA will aim to expand its membership, encouraging more stakeholders to join and contribute to the conversation.

“The business community plays a vital role in developing and facilitating trade within the logistics and supply chain environment. We will lobby warehousing, transport, and consulting businesses through these channels to join MIPA. We will also seek to include State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) – as they are significant players nationally and globally – while fostering a close-working environment with the government,” concludes Lord.

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Affordable, Reliable & Highly Tailored Overnight Road Services Delivers With Superior reach & in Record Time



African man near transport trucks

In a world where businesses demand swift and dependable logistics solutions, Seabourne Logistics is leading with its innovative ONR (overnight road service), setting new industry standards, delivering goods punctually and rapidly expanding its reach to cater to a rapidly growing clientele.

Designed to provide quick and efficient deliveries throughout South Africa, reaching destinations typically accessible solely by air, the overnight service gives clients a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced market.

“The success of our overnight road service can be attributed to our dedication to quality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness,” says Garry Harris, Director at Seabourne Logistics ZA. “We understand that our clients’ success depends on their ability to have goods delivered on time and within budget, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Transporting goods overnight by road presents numerous benefits. The foremost advantage is its cost-effectiveness, offering potential savings of up to 50% compared to airfreight services. Moreover, it excels in cargo handling, boasting greater space and flexibility than airlines. This facilitates the transportation of hazardous materials and liquids, which may be subject to stricter airborne regulations.

“While road transport does have its limitations, it is considerably more accommodating, permitting the carriage of items like aerosols or lithium batteries that may be restricted on flights. Importantly, our service consistently upholds high quality standards, ensuring minimal disruptions,” continues Harris.

Seabourne have created distribution hubs and fulfillment centres which are strategically positioned across the country to cater to the growing clientèle. Not only has it increased the service’s reach, but also allows for more efficient transportation networks.

The company has invested heavily in the development of this service.  All linehaul vehicles are equipped with long-range tanks and anti-fatigue cameras that are consistently operated by a double crew, whose activities are closely monitored by a 24-hour control room.

Iveco Turbo Daily 50C 70 vehicles with reinforced heavy-duty tow bars and 1.5-ton trailers are operated within their warranty period on the overnight road service – ensuring reliability. The fleet is subjected to bumper-to-bumper service checks every second to third day, depending on the rotation schedule.

The vehicles have dimensions measuring 4500 (length) x 1700 (width) x 1900 (height), with a carrying capacity of 2.5 tons and 16 cubic metres of space. The trailers have dimensions of 3300 (length) x 1600 (width) x 1700 (height) and can carry 1-1.5 tons with 9 cubic metres of available space. To enhance their robustness, the rear sections of the vehicles are equipped with aluminium cladding walls and Marley-type floors, complete with sunken securing points.

“Businesses, driven by price sensitivity and competition in service delivery, are increasingly opting for this intermediate service that ensures next-day delivery,” explains Harris. “It holds great value in industries like the automotive sector, where the quick movement of parts is crucial. It offers convenience and flexibility, allowing for multiple deliveries in a single trip to remote places often left out from next-day delivery. Moreso, we’re constantly working on expanding our service reach and footprint across the country, providing our clients with a cost-effective solution,” concludes Harris.

The growing logistics company moved to a new and improved facility in November, doubling their warehousing space and preparing to further enhance their reach and maintain their excellent personal service.

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Laser Cutting Systems in Shipbuilding & Supply Chain impacts



Shipbuilding with large ship and man

Shipbuilding, a craft as ancient as our love for the sea, is witnessing a heartwarming embrace of old and new. Cargo ships themselves are one of many crucial parts of the supply chain.

We talk a great deal about the freight aspect of maritime shipping however one less studied element is how we can use certain technologies to make the creation of these fleets more efficient and the effects this has on the supply chain.

Enter the laser cutter, a modern marvel making waves in this age-old industry. Let’s dive deep into how this tool, with its humming precision, is becoming the best mate for shipbuilders and how the supply chain benefits from it.

1. Precision Meets Passion

Laser Cutters:

Think of Laser cutting systems as the skilled artist’s brush in a shipbuilder’s hand. Their finesse ensures that ships are crafted not just robustly, but also with an attention to detail that would make any craftsman proud.

Supply Chain Ripples:

Thanks to these machines, there’s less scratching of heads and more nodding in approval. Fewer reorders of materials mean smoother sails from design boards to docks. This also means less cost is wasted on reordering materials and thus a less expensive component of the supply chain is produced.

2. Quick Production Times

Laser Cutters:

These aren’t your granddad’s tools. They fly through sheet metal at great speed, proving that modern tools can keep up with the high seas demands.

Supply Chain Ripples:

Quicker construction of cargo ships means that more assets can be added to the existing supply chain expanding capacity and ensuring the supply chain can keep up with demand.

3. Less Material is Wasted

Laser Cutters:

]They’re the embodiment of ‘waste not, want not’. With their precision, every bit of metal finds its purpose.

Supply Chain Ripples:

Less scrap means not just savings, but also fewer headaches about what to do with leftovers leaving us with a greener production of our ships.

4. Every Piece in Its Place

Laser Cutters:

In shipbuilding, every section is a piece of a grand puzzle. With lasers in the mix, each piece of metal can be precision-cut to fit any section of the ship.

Supply Chain Ripples:

Fewer misfits mean less time wasted going back and fixing the problem. This is music to the ears of everyone, from the shipyard to the suppliers saving time materials and precious resources.

5. Remember These High-Tech Tools Need TLC Too

Laser Cutters:

As sophisticated as they are, they’re a bit like pets. Give them care, and they’ll purr (or, hum) along perfectly.

Supply Chain Ripples:

This means the supply chain needs to have a soft spot for machine maintenance, ensuring parts and services are always on standby to service the machines that improve overall supply chain efficiency.

6. Greener Supply Chain

Laser Cutters:

Beyond their precision, they’re a wink to our green future, less waste and more sustainable practices mean a greener supply chain as these tools begin to see more and more use.

Supply Chain Ripples:

As shipbuilding turns a shade greener, the supply chain is now on the lookout for eco-friendly partners. What this means in effect is that clients and brands who sway to the more eco-friendly side will be more likely to do business with a partner that shows an ecofriendly initiative.

7. Cost Savers

Laser Cutters:

They might ask for a few extra pennies upfront, but the symphony they bring to shipbuilding often makes it worth every cent.

Supply Chain Ripples:

With a vision on the horizon, there’s a gentle nudge for more flexible payment dialogues, keeping an eye on long-term gains.


In a nutshell, the dance between laser cutters and shipbuilding is a sight to behold. A balance of tradition and technology, proves that even in an industry as seasoned as shipbuilding, there’s always room for a new partner.

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