Where to UD Trucks?

In the wake of what is one of the most significant announcements in trucking in many years – namely, the fact Isuzu Trucks is to buy UD Trucks (part of the Volvo Group) – the public relations business carries on merrily with both Volvo and UD locally telling tales how well they did in 2019 and how 2020 looks; with only the briefest mention of the BIG DEAL.


In December 2019 the Volvo Group and Isuzu Motors signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with ‘the intent to form a strategic alliance within commercial vehicles in order to capture the opportunities in the ongoing transformation of the industry’.

In a first step, the intention is to establish a global technology partnership and to create a stronger, combined heavy-duty truck business for Isuzu Motors and UD Trucks in Japan and across international markets. This will entail transferring ownership of the complete UD Trucks business globally from the Volvo Group to Isuzu Motors in order to accelerate growth by leveraging greater volumes and complementary capabilities.

A key word in this is ‘non-binding’ but even so speculation is rife as to what it actually means in the massively changing world of trucking . . .and if UD Trucks is simply going tobe chewed to the bone Piranha style by Isuzu.

Meanwhile both UD Trucks and Volvo Trucks were positive about their activities in South Africa in 2019 with UD entering a new era with the appointment of a new managing director.  Filip Van den Heede has replaced Gert Swanepoel, who retired after 32 years with the company.

IMG_9348 (2)
Gert Swanepoel (left) hands over to Filip van den Heede

“It has been an incredible journey with UD Trucks and it is truly the people and the relationships with customers and dealers that have made it worthwhile,” said Swanepoel.  “It has been a privilege to be a part of the brand’s growth and development throughout the years, and I am excited about the future of UD Trucks in the region.”

Van den Heede has been involved in the trucking industry and the Volvo Group for the past 22 years and was previously Vice President of Vehicle Sales and Marketing for UD Trucks International Sales, which included responsibility for the southern African market. He has extensive experience in all aspects of the business, including aftermarket, business development, new product introductions and sales.

“Last year was an extraordinary year for UD Trucks Southern Africa, as we launched three new model ranges in the region,” says Van den Heede.  “Our customers now have access to an extensive model line-up, from medium to extra heavy commercial vehicles, backed by the company’s 58 years of experience in the local industry.

“We have one of the most extensive dealer networks in the region, with 36 dealers and service agents in South Africa and 30 in other southern African countries such as Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As UD Trucks, we believe it comes down to the basics of supporting our customers every step of the way. To be there with professional service, parts and sales support throughout a truck’s lifecycle, and to keep on adding value to our customers’ businesses.”

Marketing Director, Rory Schulz said the performance of the commercial vehicle market was certainly erratic during 2019, as local economic conditions continued to be less than favourable.

“Despite all the odds, the total commercial vehicle market remained resilient and logged year-on-year growth of 2,1% at the end of 2019. However, transport operators continue to face severe cost pressures, with fluctuating diesel prices, overall safety of drivers and trucks, as well as instances of civil unrest, hitting many operations hard in the past year.”

Schulz said that the Southern Africa truck market is quite unique as on the one hand there are customers who want their fleets to have highly developed technologies and systems, while others are happy to stick to the very basics.

“The region is somewhat of a dichotomy as you can drive by hi-tech logistical warehouses that support large international corporations, while at the same time trying to avoid potholes on the road.  As a manufacturer, we must take these two worlds into consideration when introducing new products and technologies,” says Schulz.


Volvo Trucks Southern Africa ended 2019 as the top-selling extra heavy truck manufacturer in South Africa having sold 3 206 units in South Africa and other African countries during last year, giving them a 23,2% market share of the segment.

The first place for Volvo Trucks is an improvement of its position in 2018, when the company finished in third position – a 4,8% growth in market share.

Volvo Trucks Southern Africa has assembly facilities in Durban and currently has four ranges available: the FH16, FH, FM and FMX.  The company is also responsible for export to countries such as Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Marcus Hörberg

“Our customers and our staff are the main driving force behind everything we do,” said Marcus Hörberg, vice president of Volvo Group Southern Africa.  “We believe the quality of our products, our staff, service, parts and support, played a central role in increasing our market share.  We will now work even harder to keep the trust our fleet owners have placed in us.”

Hörberg said that in order to efficiently support the growing Volvo Trucks vehicle parc, the company will invest in additional facilities and service dealers. The company will also train and develop additional technicians to keep service levels up to the highest standards.

At the end of the fourth quarter in 2019, Volvo Trucks was also the top-ranked truck manufacturer in terms of overall customer satisfaction, according to the latest report released by Data Track, a local research company that analyses customer experiences of more than 37 500 truck and fleet operators in South Africa.

Market continues to contract

The South African economy is contracting and slowing down with the effects being felt in every single sector – the most important barometers of the nation being the Ctrack Transport and Freight Index and the monthly vehicles sales reported by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA).

The Index continues to reflect the slowing nature of the South African economy and all logistics sub sectors measured in South Africa, except road freight, recorded declines between August and October 2019 compared to the same three months in 2018.

Concerns must be mounting in boardrooms across the country as the economy struggles with slowdowns in manufacturing, mining and retail.

Hilux _039

NAAMSA said the overall new vehicle market declined further in November 2019 and Domestic sales figures, particularly in commercial vehicle sales, had been disappointing. However, passenger cars sales, with strong support provided by the car rental industry, showed a welcome uptick.

It confirmed aggregate domestic new vehicle sales, at 44 738 units, reflected a decline of 2 740 units or 5,8% from the 47 478 vehicles sold in November last year. Although monthly export sales had registered a marginal decline during the month, a new annual record had been set with still one month to go until year-end.

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 44 738 vehicles, an estimated 35 168 units or 78,6% represented dealer sales, an estimated 15,9% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3,1% to industry corporate fleets, and 2,4% to government.


The November 2019 new passenger car market registered a modest but welcomed increase of 392 cars or 1,3% to 31 444 units compared to the 31 052 new cars sold in November last year. The car rental industry once again supported domestic volumes, accounting for a substantial 21,9% of new cars sales in November 2019.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses at 10 679 units during November 2019 showed a decline of 3 038 units or a fall of 22,1% from the 13 717 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.


Sales in the low volume medium and heavy truck segments of the industry both performed weaker during the month and at 733 units and 1 882 units, respectively, reflected a decline of 60 vehicles or a fall of 7,6%, in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, a decline of 34 units, or a fall of 1,8% compared to the corresponding month last year.


Road freight, the largest sector in South Africa by volume and value, increased 1% during the period from August to October 2019 versus the same time in 2018.

Short distance transport volumes of retail goods and FMCG are still expanding, while the continuous shift to online shopping is helping parcel delivery volumes. Black Friday and Cyber Monday propped up this category.

However, the strongest road freight income growth has come from the small furniture transport sector, which may have to do with emigration and families moving to more secure locations – even while home sales remain subdued.

Off the rails

Rail freight volumes declined -1,8% between August and October 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, which indicates primary mining products are not being exported or used as much.

Furthermore, metal products have seen the largest decrease as a few medium-sized firms have closed in the last 12 months. The decline in metal products income in nominal terms was -6% and, although not all of this was in the rail sector, the knock-on effect to mining would have hurt the rail freight industry.

Air and sea freight volumes declined by -2,4% and -3,4% respectively between August and October 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. This reiterates the impact of a weak global economy and the trade war between China, the world’s largest manufacturer and the USA, the world’s largest consumer. Bulk commodity and container shipping are also in decline.

But, by far the worst performing sub sector has been storage. Manufacturers and internal traders are keeping stocks low as they expect trading conditions to worsen. Both the ABSA PMI and the Trade Activity Index from SACCI, show that role-players are concerned about the strength of the economy.


Added to this is the decline in the international storage of containers transhipped in South African ports. Transhipments declined a massive -19,3% between August and October 2019 versus the same period a year ago. While big shifts are not uncommon in the storage sector, it is concerning when all categories in this subsector are so negative.

The total decline of -14,3% in the amount of goods warehoused between August and October 2019 compared to the same period last year, is a relative indicator of the poor confidence that firms have of short-term economic performance.

Thankfully, interest rates are lower than before and are likely to drop further, reducing the cost of storage. Moreover, the shift to online shopping means that at least from that perspective (albeit small) the warehousing sector has a few positives to draw from.

However, the biggest factor in the broader logistics sector is the lack of confidence that goods will be sold relatively quickly, and that quick refilling of shelves will have to take place.

Retail price increases have remained below overall consumer price adjustments for about four years. In fact, retail prices have not increased over 3% for more than three years consecutively. This best reflects the fight that exists for the consumer’s pocket.

“In tough economic times, the cost of operating fleets can become a very difficult task,” says Hein Jordt, MD of Ctrack SA. “The need to provide competitive rates, while part of a fleet is not moving, presents transport and freight companies with additional challenges.

“The trends presented in this month’s Freight and Transport Index show government must look even closer at the supply chain industry and support transport and freight companies with cost-effective road regulation policies.

“Improved safety measures and economic policy that supports efficiency improvements, in conjunction with well-planned integration with our country’s transport and economic infrastructure, will allow us to be competitive in the global logistics market.”

Table: The Ctrack Transport and Freight Index numbers % change

Percentage Change between Rail Road Pipeline Sea Air Storage & Handling Ctrack   Transport  Freight Index
October: 2019 vs October 2018 -2,4% -0,2% -9,8% -1,7% -4,5% -14,3% -3,3%
August – October 2019 vs August – October 2018 -1,8% 1,0% -7,1% -3,4% -2,4% -14,3% -2,6%
September 2019 vs October 2019 -0,3% -1,1% 2,8% -3,6% -4,2% -0,1% -1,1%
August – October 2019 vs May – July 2019



-4,6% -2,5% -8,7% -6,5% 1,0% -4,9% -3,6%

Revamp for Transit

Now with a 6-year/90 000 km service plan as standard, the updated Ford Transit Van and Chassis Cab really gets to put its best face forward.


Front-end styling that reflects Ford’s latest design language as seen on the Transit Custom, gives the Transit a more assertive appearance with the most obvious change on the refreshed model being the new three-bar grille.


“The Ford Transit Van and Chassis Cab models are big-hitters when it comes to load-carrying abilities and the updated model brings the styling of this extremely capable commercial vehicle in line with the rest of the current Ford line-up in South Africa,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager Marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.


“Even more noteworthy is the inclusion of the service plan as standard, which eliminates the additional financial burden and complexity of budgeting for scheduled servicing of the vehicles for small and large fleet owners.


“In a tough economic and business environment where the total cost of ownership, including regular maintenance, is a key deciding factor, this presents a great benefit to commercial customers.”


TheTransit Van is available in two models, starting off with the medium wheelbase (MWB) variant that offers a load volume of up to 10 m3, and a gross payload of 1 325 kg. It is able to accommodate four standard Europallets, or carry items measuring up to 3 m long.



In the case of the extended long wheelbase (ELWB) model, it has a 15,1 m3 capacity. It can haul a payload of up to 2 270 kg, carry five Europallets or load items up to 4,2 m in length.


Ease of access to the load area is facilitated through a sliding side door with an opening width of 1 300 mm and height of up to 1 600 mm, for easier loading and unloading with forklift trucks. The rear doors have an opening width of 1 783 mm and a height of up to 2 070 mm, which allows for even bulky items to be easily loaded.


Up to 12 ISO-compliant floor-mounted tie-down points are provided throughout the load compartment for securing items, with standard illumination providing greater visibility when working inside the vehicle.


Should additional load capacity be required, the Transit is capable of towing up to 2 800 kg with a braked trailer for the MWB model, or 3 500 kg for the larger-capacity version.



The towing capacities of the Transit Chassis Cab models, which are also available in MWB and ELWB specifications, match that of the van derivatives but they have higher gross payload ratings of 1 597 kg and 2 691 kg respectively. This makes the Chassis Cab models ideal for tailor-made loadbox solutions to suit the customer’s unique requirements.


The 2,2-litre Duratorq turbo-diesel engine powers the Transit models and both variants have a 92 kW version of this engine, with an accompanying peak torque output of 350 Nm. The higher-spec engine used for the ELWB models boasts 114 kW and 385 Nm. All Transit variants are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, with drive to the front wheels for the MWB, or to the dual rear wheels for the ELWB Transit.


Inside, it offers excellent visibility, a relaxed driving position, and a steering column that is fully-adjustable for rake and reach.


Smart stowage solutions are located throughout the interior, including a full-width overhead shelf and a large hidden compartment under the dual passenger seat. Two 12-volt power sockets are provided, and can be used for charging or powering mobile devices. A Ford audio system as fitted as standard with Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity, Voice Control and steering wheel-mounted audio controls for added driving convenience and safety.



All Transit models are equipped with anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with Traction Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Hill Launch Assist and Rollover Mitigation. A driver’s crash bag is standard, with a passenger crash bag available as an option as part of the Comfort Pack that also adds air-conditioning.


Buyers can also specify a rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors, which is optional on the Transit Van, that add further convenience and ease of use.


Model Range and Recommended Retail Prices:

Transit Van

2.2 TDCi MWB                                                            R527 100

2.2 TDCi ELWB                                                           R658 200


Transit Chassis Cab

2.2 TDCi MWB                                                            R477 000

2.2 TDCi ELWB                                                           R589 300

Quontative upgrade

UD Trucks Southern Africa is forging ahead with updating its offering to the local market and has now added the Quon extra heavy range aimed specifically at the distribution, petro-chemical and FMCG market segments.

The new range includes four 6×4 rigid models, and four 6×4 truck-tractor options and Jacques Michel, President of UD Trucks International Sales, says: “UD Trucks has a proud heritage that has brought many innovative products and features over the years.


“However, at UD Trucks, innovation goes beyond new technologies. For us, innovation is a commitment to deliver the trucks and services the world needs today, adding value to our customers’ businesses, as well as society at large.”

UD Trucks Southern Africa’s area of responsibility includes both developed and developing economies and the Quon meets the needs of transport solutions in the modern age.

“To serve our customers in an even better way, UD Trucks has over the past few years invested more than during any other period in our history in facilities, in services, in our people, and not in the least, in our products,” says Gert Swanepoel, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa.  “The Quon now moves us into a stronger position in the South African truck industry.”

Gert Swanepoel MD UD Trucks Southern Africa
Gert Swanepoel

Combining optimum fuel efficiency with drivability, the Quon offers a driveline that delivers a smooth, stress-free and comfortable ride. Quon is equipped with advanced safety features that protect the driver and cargo, but also cares for the safety of the vehicle’s surroundings.

The cockpit has been redesigned around the way it feels to use it, with operability and visibility ergonomically reengineered from the ground up and features conveniently placed steering wheel switches, new meter panel, improved visibility and a 12V power socket.

The new ESCOT-VI electronically controlled automatic transmission adopts a simple, easy-to-use straight shift pattern, further advancing the Quon’s operability while also enhancing its ability to navigate muddy conditions.

All models feature disc brakes as standard and these provide a swift, smooth response and outstanding braking performance. Through these features, the all-new Quon provides a comfortable driving environment allowing drivers concentrate on the road ahead.

Quon_interior t

The new Quon range boasts a fuel-efficient, powerful and clean 11-liter GH11 engine.  It generates powerful torque from low revs up through a wide rangea nd features UD Trucks’ Nenpi Fuel Coach – a system that displays driving advice to help drivers achieve further improvement the vehicle’s fuel economy.

Additional contributors to Quon’s fuel efficiency are a weight reduction in the physical truck, as well as low air resistance.

Advanced Euro 5 technology, in all the new Quon models, also contributes to better fuel efficiency and environmentally friendlier emissions through UD’s SCR technology.

Quon utilises a range of basic, passive and active safety features to keep the driver, the cargo, as well as other road users as safe as possible.

_MG_6648 t

The UD Trucks Traffic Eye Brake system (collision mitigation braking), which uses high-precision radar and a cabin-mounted camera for dual-monitoring of the road ahead.

A Lane Departure Warning System alerts the driver when they are straying across lanes and is especially intended to keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.  An additional Driver Alert Support alerts the driver by sound and a message in the display, if the system detects any symptoms of inattentive driving or drowsy driving.

Adaptive Cruise Control is an extension of standard cruise control as it adapts the distance to the target vehicle in accordance to a selected time-gap and the speed of the subject vehicle by controlling the engine, powertrain and brakes of the Quon.

UD stability control, or UDSC sensor, detects conditions in which the truck could become unstable, such as curves or slippery road surfaces, the system applies control appropriate to engine output and braking power to each tire to maintain stability.

Every component has been refined to realise an overall lighter vehicle, while achieving gains in load-carrying capacity of up to 200 kg, depending on the model.

Improved ease of loading, bodybuilding efficiency and smoothness at creeping speed for approaching loading docks also reflect UD Trucks’ commitment to boost productivity for fleet owners.

“The all-new Quon offers a highly productive range of vehicles optimised for our customers’ business needs,” says Swanepoel.  “Our customers’ definition of the essentials needed in a truck, has changed.  Our focus therefore is to give customers reduced operating costs as related to things like fuel efficiency, payload ability and uptime.  Secondly, we are concentrating on the people factor within the transport business, making our trucks even safer and environmentally friendly.”

The all-new Quon represents a further upgrade in vehicle reliability and durability. It is easier to maintain, with a reduced number of parts requiring regular replacement and longer service intervals on genuine parts.

Designed to save

For any fleet manager, putting a dent in the company fuel bill is an absolute priority as oil prices keep inching upwards and the Rand trends downwards.

Truckmakers are constantly refining product to help ease this burden and Volvo Trucks Southern Africa recently launched new fuel saving software and upgraded D13 diesel engines.


The launch of upgraded D13 diesel engines for the local market, which includes Euro 3, Euro 4 and Euro 5 specifications, together with the new software, will enable fleetowners to reach fuel savings of up to 3%.

”As society changes and develops, our customers are requiring enhanced fuel efficiency for their fleets.  With this new technology and engine hardware, we are assisting fleetowners to achieve better results, and thus saving money and ultimately increasing their profits,” says Marcus Hörberg, Vice President of Volvo Group Southern Africa.

Marcus Horberg t
Marcus Hörberg

The new function will be introduced on locally-produced Volvo trucks from January 2020 and is called Volvo Torque Assist. It is intended to reduce fuel consumption by providing more efficient driving when the cruise control is disabled in long haul operations.

These new functions will help drivers save fuel even when cruise control is not activated. I-Cruise, Volvo Trucks’ intelligent cruise control, is still the best way to optimise fuel consumption, but sometimes it might not be applicable.


“In this way we can support the driver to cut fuel costs when driving conditions demand it,” says Hörberg.

Volvo Torque Assist is designed to give more fuel-efficient driving by automatically adapting the truck’s torque and acceleration to the road topography, the load and speed changes. Another supporting function keeps the amount of injected fuel constant after the engine’s ‘green range’ has been passed. The slightly compromised performance is compensated by improved fuel economy.

The pedal map has also been recalibrated. A less sensitive pedal creates a smoother torque development, which, in turn, makes the truck easier to control.

“The new software also gives a more significant result with heavy loads, many slope changes or large speed variations, while drivers transporting lighter loads with constant speed on flat roads will save less fuel,” he says.


The hardware upgrades in the Euro 6 Step D versions of the D13 engine, released earlier in 2019 for European markets are also being used to raise the standards of the Euro 3 to 5 engines. Internal friction has been reduced with new cylinder liners and new V-shaped oil scraper rings. The turbo efficiency has been improved and the engine management system is upgraded to a newer version with better capacity.

 Commenting on Volvo Trucks’ performance so far this year, Hörberg said: “Taking into consideration the sales statistics up to the end of August 2019, Volvo Trucks has managed to claim the biggest share in the Heavy Duty segment of the South African new truck market for the first time ever, with a 22% market share.

“We are very proud of this achievement and will continue to work hard to bring our customers only the best products, support and service,” said Hörberg.  “As a result, we have ramped up our capacity at our Durban plant to meet the increased demand for our trucks.”


Managing road accidents

Despite the constant reporting, South Africans have largely become inured to the horrifying carnage that takes place on a daily basis on our roads and drive on in the fond belief accidents happen only to other people.


In 2018 the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) State of Road Safety Report showed South Africa’s road fatality count sitting at about 12 900 people a year. This amounts to roughly 35 people dying on our roads each day.

Whether you believe in the accuracy of our country’s crash data collection systems or not, the number is still too high if compared with leading first world countries such as Sweden, which reported 287 road deaths for 2018. Comparatively, the Swedish population is roughly six times less than ours, but regardless of this, figures are still high, with the rest of Africa not looking any better.

With this in mind, you may ask the question – “What happens if I’m involved in a serious accident anywhere, on any road in South Africa? Will the response from law enforcement and emergency services save my life?”

Part of the answer lies in the readiness and efficiency of an Incident Management System that aims to effectively coordinate, preplan and manage incidents in order to save lives and restore traffic back to its normal operating conditions.


Since 2013 South African National Road Agency Limited (SANRAL) has formally been running the Road Incident Management Systems (RIMS) programs across its national road network. The Program aims to coordinate and administer activities for the skills training and development of emergency responders, involved in managing incidents on a daily basis.

How is Road Accident Management implemented on the ground?

When an incident occurs on the road, the person reporting the incident would normally call a known emergency number. From international examples we know that one emergency number is a common standard, especially for ease of remembering – example USA’s 911.

On most national roads, SANRAL displays brown informational signs to urge motorists to use 112 (EMS), 10111(SAPS) or 10177(FIRE) numbers for emergencies. In Gauteng the 0800ITRAFF number is displayed on electronic sign boards for SANRAL’s on-road services’ response.

Image 1

What SHOULD happen is that when a 112 / 10111 / 10177 call centre operator receives the call, after obtaining information on the type of incident and location, the call be routed to a Centralised Communication Centre (CCC) in the caller’s region. The status of how this call routing is currently implemented is under investigation and review by RIMS Role-players and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS).

Many tests and discussions with role players have confirmed that routing to CCCs mostly does NOT happen when a caller dials the national emergency numbers. Organisations such as SAPS or EMS are contacted directly, at the call operator’s own judgement of where they think the closest response should come from.

To ensure the system works as intended, agreements and concepts of operations are needed to ensure the call centre operators are trained to know what end where CCCs are located. The CCC’s should be reliable and sustainable, and regulations should be in place to ensure the routing is done correctly.

  • Comment: It remains mystifying why one single number cannot be used on a national basis – such as 911 – that routes through a central command with the correct caller and location identification. This system works in the USA where there are multiple telephone and cell phone companies – it’s not rocket science.

When emergency response is activated, SAPS, Traffic Police, Fire Departments, EMS Services are usually the first to be notified and dispatched to the scene.

Limpopo is divided into 5 District Municipalities, each with its own CCC and teams of responders for each emergency service.

On arrival at the scene, the first responder establishes a joint incident command post (JICP), usually in the form of an orange cone on the roof of their vehicle. The scene is then analysed in terms of type of incident, injuries and spillages.

The first responder secures or cordons off the area, puts traffic control measures in place and communicates with the CCC to give a status quo and requests additional assistance. Once additional responders arrive, they report to the JICP, which is the visible marker to indicate the central point at which to report on arrival at the scene.

An Incident Management Team can then start to form, with each emergency service represented for coordination of decision-making and actions to be taken. This is core to RIMS. The Management team nominates an incident coordinator, who is responsible for communication to the CCC, coordinating decisions made, and reporting to the media and other major stakeholders if a major incident has occurred.

Image 2 shows an example of a team sizing up an incident.

Picture 2

Image 2: Waterberg Simulation Exercise, N1 North of Kranskop – Traffic Police and RRM inspecting the vehicle

Activities under the Road Accident Management Program

Various meetings and training activities are coordinated and hosted by the Consultants for RIMS in each province.

Steering Committees and Task Group Meetings are held quarterly in each district of the Province. These Committees consist of representatives delegated for decision-making on behalf of their organisations. Other affected parties (Disaster Management, Environmental Affairs, Cross-Border and Road Accident Fund) and non-specialist services (Routine Road Maintenance and Towing Associations) also participate and form part of the overall RIMS System.

Post Incident Assessments (PIA) are conducted regularly, for major crashes, particularly where there were more than 5 fatalities. The PIA workshop discusses how incident management was implemented on the day, and reflects on challenges, successes and solutions to some of the ongoing issues faced by responders.

 Post Incident Assessment case study: Fuel tanker catches fire on N1

A recent PIA was held for a fuel tanker that caught fire on the N1 between Codrington and Bela-Bela. The incident timeline showed the incident first reported at 14:30, but the road finally cleared and re-opened only at 22:00. As in many cases, law enforcement only plays a part role in the managing of incidents.

Disrespect for the rule of law caused a fatality from a secondary accident which occurred hours after the road was closed to traffic. Trucks who forced their way through the initial closure were stopped and given the option to wait until the road was opened or return to an alternative route.

One truck driver, among those who opted to stop and wait, became impatient and made a U-turn into the opposite carriageway. He had no visible bright lights and ignored traffic police. This resulted in an oncoming Hilux bakkie crashing into the back of the truck and being dragged for meters. The driver of the bakkie passed away on the scene and the driver was charged.


The question is now – What sequence of events could have prevented this unfortunate fatality when the initial incident had resulted in no injuries? This is the sort of scenario that a well-coordinated RIMS system tries to avoid.

  • Comment: Disrespect for the law is a fundamental problem that has been allowed to grow, multiply and fester as the local and national traffic authorities devolve into little more than speed trap revenue collectors. The chronic inefficiency of many officers and municipal systems is the ‘sequence of events’.

Staged accidents for Road Accident Management training activities

The program runs accredited 2-day training sessions and informal 1-day sessions, where responders are given a refresher opportunity on procedures and protocols that should already be entrenched from their basic training.

Simulation Exercises are hands-on tutorials that to an outsider would look like the real deal. A planning task team plans for weeks in advance, wrecked vehicles are towed to the scene and patients are staged.

For Limpopo, due to the high occurrence of Dangerous Goods Trucks on the roads, there is still a big need for Hazardous Materials training.

Other high-profile accidents involve buses and minibuses, and often these vehicles are from neighbouring countries. Simulation exercises focus on these types of scenarios and help to train responders for the real-life situations. The Simulation Exercise recently held in Vhembe played out a crash with multiple injuries and fatalities (See Image 3).

Picture 3

Image 3: Vhembe Simulation Exercise, N1, Musina – EMS attending to patients

 Challenges and victories for South Africa’s emergency services 

With a vast amount of challenges, starting from a lack of resources such as no water for fire trucks, no overtime funds available for responders to work weekends or month end, exacerbated by motorists not bothered to abide by rules of the road, you would think the emergency responder’s work is made almost impossible.

Traffic Police and SAPS officers are in the line of fire daily, EMS cannot operate in certain areas for fear of their equipment and personal belongings being hijacked. Forensic Pathologists deals with removing tens of deceased bodies at a time when a bus crash takes 12 lives at once.

The successes can however be measured in smaller doses. Daily messages on RIMS WhatsApp groups show how incidents are identified, notified and reported in time for lives to be saved. Out of control veld fires are brought under control and stray animals are reported as dangers to motorists. Regardless of overtime or mileage constraints, officials still respond even though they’re not reimbursed by their employers.

Picture 4.jpg

Image 4: Mopani, R71-Phalaborwa – Simulation Team

Those attending training give feedback to and encourage their colleagues to also participate. Simulations are well attended and participated in. Even with the statistics painting a grim picture of road fatalities annually, many more pieces of the Road Safety puzzle need to fall in place to bring the figures down.

Emergency response has its role to play, and many of those executing are trying their best. Teamwork is evident from reports at PIAs and Steering Committee Meetings, and even though the incident management procedures and protocols are not always followed, responders still manage to save lives and clear the scene for traffic to proceed as usual.

Picture 5

Image 5: Capricorn Simulation Exercise, R521 Dendron Rd – Hazmat Simulation staging

The RIMS Legislation is currently under review at National Government. Hopefully by 2023 (10 years into the formalised SANRAL program) we will have the legislation passed to seriously give impetus for authorities to equip their officials with enough knowledge and resources to be more effective on the ground.

Logistics slows down

August data from the Ctrack Logistics Barometer indicates pronounced deceleration in global logistics growth (see figure 1), particularly in sea and air freight volumes (see figure 2).

While the growth slowdown was already evident in July’s Ctrack Logistics Barometer, the pace of the slowdown is now more apparent, as can be seen in the barometer’s short-term data.

Figure 1:


Source: economists.co.za and Ctrack

 Figure 2:


Source: economists.co.za and Ctrack

Despite this, total freight volumes in South Africa are up 1.1% on a year ago on a three-month (June, July, August) moving average basis. Road freight volumes showed the strongest positive trend rising 3.1%, while sea freight volumes showed the biggest decline of -3.5%.

The global trade war is starting to have an impact on South African trade and the volume of shipped containers is a clear indication of a slowing world economy.

Break bulk volumes at South African ports have declined 35.3% from a year ago on a three-month (June, July, August) moving average basis – the biggest year-on-year decline recorded since 2008. SA container volumes declined 6.2% during the same period.


Land transport though is still growing due to internal demand, while bulk coal and iron ore exports show positive growth. However, even here the short-term trend is slower than before, with the Ctrack Logistics Barometer suggesting far more mundane economic performance in the 3rd quarter of 2019.

The pipeline sector, which is dominated by fuel transportation, indicates a small decline of -0.4% on a year ago but a much larger -5.1% decline compared to July. The price of fuel has not increased much but users have either delayed buying more in the hope of lower prices, or due to uncertainty in the short-term economic outlook.

With a sudden rise in the oil price, higher fuel prices are likely in October. If fuel volumes still decline in September, the reason will likely be attributed to the uncertain economic outlook.


The measurements below (Table 1) show freight volume changes – in percentages – over different time periods. The most important of these is the three-month moving average (June, July, August) measured against the same three months of last year.

Table 1:


Change from 2018 Rail Road Pipeline Sea Air Storage & handling Logistics
August 2019 vs August 2018 +0.1% +2.2% -5.9% -1.5% -2.0% -6.1% -0.1%
March, April, May 2019 vs March, April, May 2018 +1.0% +3.1% -0.4% -3.5% -0.4% -2.1% +1.1%
Short term changes              
Change from July 2019 to August 2019 +1.1% +0.8% -5.1% -4.1% +0.9% -6.3% -0.7%
March, April, May 2019 vs June, July, August 2019 -1.0% -0.5% -1.4% -8.5% -0.8% +0.9% -1.1%

Source: economists.co.za and Ctrack

The drop in sea freight volumes is confirmed by the CPB World Trade Monitor. Overall, global trade is estimated to have declined by -0,4% for the three-months to June 2019 compared to the same period a year ago.

Although this data is a little earlier than the August Ctrack Logistics Barometer data, one can surmise that declining world trade will weigh on the barometer since logistics by its very nature is a cross-border industry heavily influenced by global trends.

Strangely, in contrast to slowing world trade trends, the latest IATA data shows a substantial increase in international air freight for South Africa.

Nonetheless, the global trade war is impacting world trade and that will likely have a negative impact on both sea and air freight for the next few months or even quarters. Slower growth will also influence the movement of minerals – the main income generator for Transnet Freight Rail.

Furthermore, the drought in the wheat growing regions of the southern Cape will impact road freight. More wheat may have to be imported, making for longer journeys for transporters. This may already be a reason for the positive growth seen in road freight.


“We are proud to say the Ctrack Logistics Barometer, now in its second month, has been well-received in the marketplace,” says Hein Jordt, managing director of Ctrack SA.

“It appears that road transport continues to gain market share, providing the backbone in the South African logistics industry. However, it remains imperative for transport and logistics companies to manage their delivery fleets closely in lieu of recent oil price increases. Only a holistic fleet management system with daily insights – such as Ctrack’s business intelligence reports and bureau services – can simplify this important task for fleets.”

The Ctrack Logistics Barometer can be viewed online at www.ctrack.co.za