The City of Cape Town’s Council approved a Freight Management Strategy to ensure that freight transport within Cape Town is safe, efficient and serves the needs of the economy without compromising the access and mobility of other road users, and that freight operators comply with weight regulations.

‘Our local and regional economy is firmly vested in global trade and depends largely on road-based transport of cargo to and from the port, airport and between cities and towns. However, as much as the City is responsible for the provision of an efficient and reliable road network, we cannot ignore the impact of road-based freight on Cape Town’s roads and the urban environment. Counting among the effects are carbon emissions, congestion and road accidents. Furthermore, the City spends approximately R1 billion per annum on road maintenance,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

Last year Transport for Cape Town (TCT), the City’s transport authority, conducted a status quo assessment of freight transport which revealed that:

  • there is significant growth in road-based freight along Cape Town’s major roads due to the growth in fast-moving consumer goods worldwide
  • rail’s share of freight has dramatically declined
  • the Port of Cape Town, the major generator of freight, has expansion plans to roughly triple its current container handling services in the next 20 years
  • overloading of freight vehicles has a significant impact on the road network, leading to roads deteriorating prematurely the city’s roads are congested for many hours of the day and freight transport exacerbates the situation overloading and freight-related transgressions are not adequately addressed, penalties are low, and self-regulation is rarely embraced
  • noise and air pollution from freight operations are reason for concern
  • the transportation of dangerous goods (hazardous materials) is uncontrolled and insufficiently regulated

‘As such, TCT has developed a Freight Management Strategy in accordance with the National Land Transport Act, which requires us to make certain interventions to reduce the impact of road-based freight on our roads and environment,’ said Councillor Herron.

The strategy focuses on the following, among others: the transportation of dangerous goods; congestion; freight demand; road safety; freight emissions; and importantly, overloading.

‘Overloading is currently not adequately controlled because weighbridges are located on major highways on the outskirts of Cape Town. They are not staffed 24/7 and are easily bypassed by using alternative routes. In fact, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research estimates that overloading causes up to 60% of all road damage,’ said Councillor Herron.

Given the limited resources for overload control enforcement, TCT will over the next three years investigate and implement innovative technologies to address this challenge.

‘TCT is considering the use of weigh-in-motion (WIM) technology at key locations in Cape Town. WIM technology can capture and record heavy vehicle axle weights and gross vehicle weights while the vehicle is traveling along a route. It thus pre-screens vehicles in motion in comparison to static weighing at weighbridges. The data collected with WIM systems can then be used for enforcement,’ said Councillor Herron.

In accordance with the strategy, TCT will investigate, initiate and test a WIM device on a suitable segment of the road network and use the outcome of this pilot for further roll-outs.

While there is a need to preserve the current existing infrastructure, the City is also under obligation to plan ahead for future freight growth and to bring down the cost of doing business in Cape Town.

‘New road infrastructure is costly and takes years to construct. We must respond to the predicted growth in road-based freight, in part with new infrastructure, but also by improving the location of the main logistics centres, warehousing, depots and distribution centres across the city so that freight operators can reduce the number of trips needed,’ said Councillor Herron.

Furthermore, much of the freight moving to and from Cape Town is transported along the N1, N2 and N7.

‘Currently up to 20% of the vehicles on the N1 are heavy vehicles. TCT will facilitate efficient freight movement through optimising existing road infrastructure, dedicated freight routes and promoting off-peak or night-time deliveries and operations,’ said Councillor Herron.

TCT has, over the last two years and during the recent public participation process, liaised with Cape Town’s Chamber of Commerce, the SA Shippers Council, Transnet Freight Rail, the Transnet Ports Authority, Transnet Port Operators, the Airports Company of South Africa and many of the major logistics companies and retailers about the strategy.

‘It is our intention to keep on liaising with them and other stakeholders to address ongoing concerns and proposals. What is very clear is that rail must be part of the plan and that we will have to implement innovative solutions to preserve our road network and to reduce the overall cost of doing business in Cape Town,’ said Councillor Herron.