In a commendable move to promote road safety, leading certification body JC Auditors has announced that it will provide transport operators with free access to an online safety performance assessment tool. This initiative aims to assist fleet operators, especially smaller fleets, which often lack the resources to evaluate their overall safety performance. This online assessment would also enable an operator to identify its performance in relation to the Road Transport Management System (RTMS) National Standard.
The RTMS is a comprehensive framework designed to improve safety, efficiency, and compliance within the transport industry. It consists of several key pillars, including load management, driver wellness, vehicle maintenance, journey management, and driving behaviour.
By making this online safety performance assessment tool accessible, JC Auditors aims to enable transport operators identify and mitigate risks, which will not only help the individual business but also contribute improving South Africa’s road safety record. The assessment tool comprises a series of carefully crafted questions focusing on the key pillars of RTMS. Operators can complete the online evaluation, the results of which will be available in a report detailing key risks and recommended improvement actions.
This valuable feedback empowers operators to identify potential risks and take pro-active measures to enhance safety standards within their operations.
Oliver Naidoo, Managing Director of JC Auditors, highlights the importance of this initiative, saying: “It is vitally important that transport operators – regardless of their fleet size – have access to resources that can help them enhance their safety performance. By providing this online assessment tool for free, we aim to support South African fleets in adopting RTMS and holistically improving road safety and operational performance.”
JC Auditors, who have been actively advocating for safe transport operations in the country, took the lead in discussing safe and sustainable road transport during the May Transport Forum they hosted.
Naidoo highlights four crucial outcomes from the event, shedding light on pressing industry issues. “First and foremost,” he asserts, “we need to build capacity in SMEs to embrace safety systems as an integral part of business.” The old adage that the strongest chain is only as strong as the weakest link rings true.
Serious truck accidents often cause closure of national roads for hours on end – impacting other transporters (many of whom are professional, safety focused entities), as well as public road users. Such accidents have a negative social impact (fatalities and injuries) and also severely affects the overall cost of transport, contributing to inefficient supply chains which ultimately affects the economy. So, it is in the national interest that we should aim to gradually increase the number of safety-conscious, professional transporter on our roads.
Additionally, Naidoo emphasises the growing need to promote initiatives aimed at changing driving culture within the industry. Furthermore, it was observed that the transport sector often does not fully optimise telematics capabilities, despite its ability to identify high-risk behaviour- a matter that requires urgent attention. Lastly, he notes the importance of fostering increased stakeholder collaboration in collective efforts to improve fleet safety performance, which emerged as the fourth key takeaway.
Speaking at the online event, Dr Paul Nordengen, RTMS National Steering Committee chairperson, highlighted the significant advantages witnessed in the heavy vehicle transport sector through the adoption of the RTMS in South Africa. Dr Nordengen also reported on the significant productivity and safety gains observed in the Performance Based Standards (PBS) pilot project.
Dr Nordengen stated: “Companies that have implemented PBS are experiencing a wide range of benefits – including improved road safety, reduced environmental impact, and cost savings.”
Annah Ngxeketo, the founder of SMME operator Mamoja Trading & Projects, shared her company’s transformative journey in transporting mining products during the event. She noted that, since achieving RTMS compliance, Mamoja has witnessed tangible advantages in their business operations. Challenges such as prolonged downtime, missed vehicle servicing, and driver incidents, have been effectively addressed through RTMS implementation. The company has implemented a comprehensive maintenance schedule plan that undergoes continuous monitoring. Additionally, they conduct route risk assessments, enforce a speeding policy, and ensure drivers are managed in a professional and progressive manner.
“The adoption and implementation of RTMS as well as other international standards play a pivotal role in enhancing road safety in South Africa and ensuring the efficient transportation of cargo throughout the country,” concludes Naidoo.
RTMS auditors in bid to raise safety awareness amongst truck drivers in South Africa
South Africa faces a pressing road safety challenge, with a disproportionate number of accidents involving heavy vehicles, particularly trucks. In an effort to address this issue and promote safer road conditions, it is imperative to raise safety awareness among truck drivers across the country.
To promote safe driving amongst heavy vehicle truck drivers, certifications solutions company JC Auditors (JCA) will participate in a series of road shows in collaboration with industry partners, dedicated to raising awareness among heavy vehicle truck drivers and promoting safe driving behaviours.
The first event will be hosted at the Highway Junction Truck Stop on 4 October 2023, targeting an audience of 2 000 drivers.
During this event, drivers will not only be treated to delightful surprises and giveaways, but will also receive a crucial safety message emphasising the importance of responsible driving. The Highway Junction team are spearheading this event, with the JCA team providing driver safety resources and support.
For the second year, JCA will partner with the Reinhardt Transport Group (RTG) for their “Safer Roads” road shows, which will take place in various locations, including Komatipoort, Steelpoort, Rustenburg, Brits and Richards Bay.
This collaboration will enable the dissemination of vital road safety information to a broader audience of truck drivers across these high-volume routes.
In addition to these road shows, JCA will host its third Annual Driver Day at Highway Junction, which will encompass driver health checks and the highly successful one-on-one driver motivational talks.
This event further recognises the challenges faced by truck drivers and aims to express appreciation for their demanding profession. Each driver will receive a token of gratitude as a gesture of recognition for their commitment to one of the most challenging jobs around.
“The JCA team strongly encourages all stakeholders in the road safety ecosystem to consider and implement initiatives that elevate the professional status of drivers,” says Managing Director Oliver Naidoo. “By collectively addressing the issues faced by truck drivers and promoting safer driving practices, we can work towards improving South Africa’s lamentable road safety record.”
JCA is committed to fostering a culture of road safety and believes that these road shows, in collaboration with industry partners, are a meaningful step towards making our roads safer for everyone.
“South Africa’s trucking industry plays a pivotal role in the nation’s economy, facilitating the transportation of goods that are essential for daily life,” continues Naidoo. “The significant increase in freight volumes proportionately increases the safety risk exposure, hence the need for greater awareness and adherence to safety protocols among truck drivers.”
In this regard, Naidoo highlights some key factors the road freight sector should consider:
High Accident Rates
South Africa has one of the highest road crash rates in the world, and a significant proportion of these accidents involve heavy vehicles. The consequences of these accidents are often devastating, resulting in loss of life, injury, and damage to property.
Road accidents involving trucks have a substantial economic impact, causing delays in supply chains, increased insurance costs, and damage to infrastructure. These costs ultimately affect businesses, consumers, and the overall economy.
Truck driving is a demanding profession, often requiring long hours on the road, exposure to adverse weather conditions, and significant physical and mental strain. Ensuring the well-being of truck drivers is not only a safety concern, but also a matter of basic human rights. The increasing truck crime statistics and social unrest incidents make the situation even worse.
To address these challenges, there is a growing need for comprehensive safety awareness programs targeting truck drivers. These initiatives should include:
Education & Training
Providing truck drivers with access to training programs that focus on safe driving practices, defensive driving techniques, and understanding road conditions. This should not be purely classroom based which has limited impact, but should use personal, innovative, and consistent means of engaging with the drivers to bring about the desired shift in safety culture.
Mental & Physical Health Support
Offering resources and services that address the mental and physical health of truck drivers, including stress management, nutrition, and regular health check-ups, especially for drivers with chronic illnesses.
Implementing advanced safety technologies such as collision avoidance systems, fatigue monitoring, and using telematics data to enhance driver safety.
Encouraging collaboration between government agencies, the trucking industry, and local communities, to create a collective commitment to road safety.
Recognition & Appreciation
Recognising and appreciating the contributions of truck drivers who undertake one of the toughest jobs in the country, often under challenging conditions.
Voestalpine VAE SA (VAESA) Awarded a Prestigious Three-Year Contract by Transnet Freight Rail for Turnout Sets
Leading provider of railway infrastructure solutions, VAESA, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a significant three-year contract by Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) to manufacture and supply TFR’s demand for turnout sets and components annually.
This collaboration is a testament to VAESA’s commitment to delivering high-quality railway products and services that enhance South Africa’s rail network.
TFR’s decision to award VAESA with this game-changing contract from a rail network infrastructure perspective, underscores the company’s reputation for excellence and innovation within the railway industry.
“We are delighted to have been selected by TFR for this significant contract,” says Pulane Tshabalala Kingston, VAESA’s Chief Executive Officer.
“This partnership between ourselves and TFR aligns perfectly with our mission to provide cutting-edge railway solutions that contribute to South Africa’s transportation infrastructure progress. Our team is dedicated to delivering products of the highest quality that meet the stringent standards set by TFR.”
Local Production a Boost For The Economy
The turnout sets and components for this project will be manufactured at VAESA’s state-of-the-art Isando facility in Johannesburg.
The facility holds a unique history, as it was acquired 26 years ago by voestalpine Railway Systems, part of the voestalpine group, a distinguished Austrian-listed metal company renowned as the unrivalled leader in turnout technology globally. In 2021, Mirai Rail Corporation, a black woman-owned company, acquired a controlling interest in VAESA.
“As the only facility of its scale in sub-Saharan Africa, our Isando facility stands as a testament – not only to the company’s dedication to advancing railway infrastructure and technology on the Continent, but also to our commitment to local manufacture in South Africa,” says Tshabalala Kingston.
“In this regard, it is important to note that our facility has the capacity to comfortably meet both TFR’s demand in terms of the awarded contract, as well as our other customers’ demands. We have gone to great lengths to ensure the security of supply for our customers, as we understand how important this is.”
“It is noteworthy that this is the first substantial turnouts contract to have been successfully awarded in the last five years – and explains TFR’s significant maintenance backlog.
This award is an important and positive step forward by TFR, which will go a long way to resolving cycle time issues, creating jobs, bolstering the revenues of users on the rail network and ultimately contributing to our overall economic growth,” continues Tshabalala Kingston.
Turnouts are a critical component of modern railway infrastructure. They let trains change tracks smoothly, without needing to stop.
Turnouts allow trains to be re-routed to avoid congestion, delays, or maintenance work. Additionally, rail turnouts enable the creation of sidings, which are essential for freight trains to pass each other on single-track lines.
Empowering Communities & Driving Economic Growth
According to Tshabalala Kingston, the significance of the contract goes well beyond VAESA, casting a positive light on the entire perway industry.
“This award heralds a much-needed turnaround that will breathe new life into various facets of the industry – including job prospects and the livelihood of downstream suppliers, who provide essential components like nuts, bolts, chairs, and fishplates. The positive impact of this award extends across the industry, as it revitalises not only VAESA, but also the network of companies that support its operations.”
Already, VAESA has supplied TFR with 18 complete turnout sets. These were installed in July this year during the annual shutdown of the coal line that runs from Lephalale in Limpopo, through Mpumalanga, to the Port of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.
The turnouts were installed on the Ermelo, Vryheid, Ulundi and Richards Bay lines. As of January 2023, the coal line had a number of clamped turnouts, which hurt the ability of coal mining companies to evacuate their export coal.
Replacing 18 turnouts has been heralded as a game-changer, significantly improving cycle times and overall turnaround time in the TFR Ermelo yard – ultimately halving the overall cycle time.
“The awarding of this contract and the successful engagement and participation in the yearly coal line shutdown, through collaborative efforts with various stakeholders, serves as undeniable evidence of what is possible when all stakeholders come together with a common purpose, ” concludes Tshabalala Kingston.
“It benefits the manufacturing industry at large and users of the various rail corridors. Equally important, is that it will increase tariff revenues for Transnet – given the greater operational efficiencies achieved, allowing for more volumes to be transported between the coal mines and the Port of Richards Bay. This impact of the award cannot be underestimated – it has the capability of contributing to the re-awakening of the South African rail renaissance.”
Unitrans champions International Water Week with collaborative Clean-up Day.
Committed to environmental rejuvenation and sustainability, logistics services provider Unitrans has partnered with Adopt-a-River, uniting their efforts in a river clean-up initiative as part of International Water Week.
The event, held at the Unitrans depot in Clairwood, Kwa-Zulu Natal, on 23 August 2023, showcased a robust collaboration among critical stakeholders, including neighbouring companies, the community and the government.
“We have prioritised several sustainability goals and have made a firm commitment to making a positive impact and being responsible in our consumption and everything we do,” explained Unitrans CEO Terry Bantock. “The clean-up day is a reflection of this.”
“Unitrans believes in the power of partnership and proactive engagement to drive positive change. Through initiatives like this, we aim to inspire and encourage a broader movement towards safeguarding our planet for future generations.”
Unitrans actively supports Adopt-a-River, a non-profit organisation dedicated to making a difference in our waterways. The project involves waste collection from the Umhlatuzane River adjacent to the company’s Clairwood depot, tackling illegally dumped waste and controlling the alien invasive species along the riverbank.
The clean-up day highlighted the ongoing efforts to restore the Umhlatuzane River, by clearing some significant sand deposits and blocking off slip road access, which was illegally used for washing vehicles and dumping waste and chemicals into the river.
Collaboration for sustainability
By Unitrans’ unwavering dedication to adopting a portion of the river and fostering sustainable practices, the event echoed a resounding call for collective action in safeguarding natural resources.
The dedicated group of environmental enthusiasts comprising Unitrans and Adopt-a-River staff, representatives from the community, Ethekwini Municipality, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, neighbouring companies, as well as members of the media, dedicated their time and effort to address some of the challenges faced on the Umhlatuzane River.
Recognising the critical importance of water resources and the need to address environmental challenges, Unitrans and Adopt-a-River embarked on this journey in November 2022, marking the beginning of a relentless effort to combat daily issues affecting the Umhlatuzane canal and its banks. The project’s inception highlighted the problems plaguing the Umhlatuzane River and its surroundings.
Founder and Director of Adopt-a-River Janet Simpkins stressed the importance of collaboration:
“By embracing the concept of adopting and maintaining a space along a river, ordinary individuals can become water warriors. The need for water security, particularly in the face of global climate change, cannot be over-emphasised.
“Protecting our precious water resources and keeping them pollution-free is vital. We are grateful to all the stakeholders for joining hands with us to support this important initiative.”
Commenting on the excellent turnout of various stakeholders, Head of Accelerated Organisational Sustainability Liesl de Wet added: “Considering the multiple stressors impacting our rivers, now more than ever, a unified approach is required to protect our rivers, wetlands, and broader catchments. We are delighted that our neighbours, community members and government stakeholders joined us on this important initiative.”
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