Letters to the editor

Copyright 2001 FleetWatch magazine and FleetWatch On-Line.

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Past Issues

March 2002


OVERLOADING

Overloading 
The 
Operator's
Viewpoint

A sugar cane seven axle interlink combination from Unitrans operating at a gross mass of 56 000 kg


In the last edition of FleetWatch, we highlighted the views of a number of operators who were admonished by the KwaZulu Natal Traffic Directorate as well as the National Roads Agency Board for overloading. In this edition, we continue this feature with responses from more companies. As stated last month, FleetWatch hopes that by giving operators a chance to have their say, this will lead to a better understanding from all of what the transporter is facing out there. Not all transporters are gross overloaders as is often made out. What we have are a number of challenges facing operators as they keep the wheels of the economy rolling and the government and the private sector need to work together to find ways of meeting these challenges rather than having the entire trucking industry thrown together into one basket of rotten apples.

Unitrans
I would like to state at the outset that we at Unitrans Freight are totally committed to conducting our operations within the framework of the law. That said, the question arises as to which set of statistics in the Annual Report on Overload Control one should focus on to decide who the "gross" or "policy" overloaders are. If one were to focus on the highest overload levels (Table 7 - see alongside), one would run the risk of possibly drawing attention to one isolated incident by an operator who is generally conducting business within the law.

TABLE 7: 
Top ten maximum overloads in KwaZulu-Natal during 2000

Regulation Overload (kg) Company Cargo Locality
365A 39 020 F.S.T. Transport Goods Newcastle
362D 25 540 I.T.C. Steel pipes Mkondeni
365 21 900 I.T.C. Machinery Midway
365A 20 400 Dhurumraj Cartage Steel Plates Mkondeni
237 20 360 Prospect Cartage Goods Newcastle
365 19 760 Hotlink Transport Bricks Newcastle
362D 19 200 Alex Carriers Timber Empangeni
237 18 660 Yellow Jacket Paper Reels Umhloti
365 17 860 WTC Timber Greytown
237 17 560 Savanar Carriers Goods Midway

It would appear to us that the percentage of weighing which result in charges is the most acceptable measure. Table 11 (see alongside) identifies the top ten offenders. These are apparently the operators who blatantly abuse the law and the roads, with up to 83% of loads weighed being illegal.

TABLE 11: 
Maximum company overloads in terms of percentage of vehicles charged
(minimum of 15 vehicles weighed)

 Company Name Percentage
charged
Vehicles weighed Vehicles
Overloaded
Percentage
Overloaded
Average Overload (kg)
T C & Sons 83 29 26 90 4 008
Danny's Carriers 65 17 15 88 1 859
Forecourt Express 65 20 16 80 1 740
F C V Hauliers 62 16 13 81 4 609
Van Eeden Transport 55 20 15 75 3 864
Mike Transport 55 44 33 75 1 790
Vaal Maseru 55 22 18 82 1 076
Vulamehlo Transport 54 24 20 83 2 358
CKT Express 50 16 8 50 3 462
Systroom 50 36 29 81  1 642

It is interesting to note that none of the operators listed here appear on pages A4 to A6 of the report, presumably because they have been subject to less than 150 mass checks, a rather questionable cut off point seeing as it eliminates the "terrible ten". (The operators listed on pages A4 to A6 in the report are those who had more than 150 vehicles weighed at all weighbridges during the reporting period - Ed)

We at Unitrans Freight are not at all proud to be reflected on the listing and while we do not wish to put a whole lot of lame excuses on the table, there are issues we feel need to be shared with you.

One of the more important issues we believe should be highlighted is how overloading should be defined. We are all aware that the authorities regard a single ton over 56 000 kgs gross combination mass, of a seven-axle combination, as being an overload. Charges are, however, only instituted for loads in excess of 58 800 kgs to allow the 5% margin of error, which was an agreement reached between the DoT and the Department of Justice some years ago.

The 'grey' area between 56 000 kgs and 58 800 kgs is one which has been the cause of the trucking industry being held to be the villain of the roads. In the extremely competitive environment of road freight transport, operators are obliged to maximise payloads within the limits determined by permissible allowances currently existent in the industry.

On this basis, to state that a vehicle, or axle, loaded to a point over the legal limit but within the allowable tolerance is 'overloaded' can lead to a distortion of the situation. It has to be accepted that if a tolerance factor is allowed, anyone choosing not to use it would eventually go out of business. We do, after all, live in a very competitive world.

We refer to your editorial 'comment' page in a past issue of FleetWatch whereby it is stated that of 2 738 Unitrans vehicles weighed during the year 2000, 1 599 were overloaded but only 249 were charged. This surely confirms the existence of the grey area. Further, in analysing the 249 vehicles that were charged, only 89 (3,3% of the vehicles weighed) were in excess of the 58 800 kgs gross combination mass including the 5% allowance.

Of these 89 weighings, 73 were carrying either raw timber, sugar cane or bulk sugar. Many of the vehicles are loaded in cane fields or forests and the only time the actual load is known is at the off-loading point. It is impossible to accurately determine the load factor of these commodities as weighing facilities are not available at the point of loading.

Over the past few years, Unitrans has introduced on-board weighing equipment at a cost of up to R80 000 per vehicle combination on all timber rigs in order to control loads and the incidence of overloading. While some of the success of this programme is reflected in the comments on page 13 of the Overloading Report, which confirms the reduction over the past few years, the equipment unfortunately has not stood up to the harsh operating conditions. This is reflected in the report from Fil Morkel, general manager of the Mining and Forest Products Division (see below).

Most of the balance of the vehicles charged during the year 2000 were within the maximum gross combination mass but were penalised on the basis of individual axle/axle unit mass load. Again, more than half of the vehicles charged were carrying one of the above three products and the same comments would apply, as the distribution of the load is also extremely difficult to control.

It is well known that sugar cane represents a dynamic load that very often can shift in transit resulting in movement of the load centre and hence aggravating the load distribution problem.

We are of the opinion that to continue to focus on the number of vehicles 'overloaded' instead of the number which have been charged is leading to a loss of impact. The de facto situation is that operators will continue to load to within the 5% allowance and not consider the vehicle to be overloaded.

I have asked Richard Rauff, regional manager for the Sugar Division in KZN, to set out his perspective of overloading from an operator's viewpoint so that you can develop a feel for the issues he has to contend with on a day to day basis (see below). We trust that you will gain an impression of the attitude of Unitrans Freight management to the issue of overloading from reading the attached report from Rauff and that of Morkel.

We are embarrassed to say that in our own opinion and looked at from a practical road haulier perspective, we have been guilty of overloading to the extent of about 1 % of the vehicles weighed. While we do not consider this to be excessive, we are intolerant of transgressing the law and will endeavour to continue to improve on our overloading record.

It may help to put our record of overloading in perspective to note that our Sugar Division alone completed some 55 000 trips in KZN during the year reviewed in the report. One could argue that 1% of this number could represent 550 overloads. It is far more likely that the percentage would reduce. We say this for two reasons:

  1. The point raised under Fines and Weighing Statistics in Rauff's report.

  2. Giving due credit to John Schnell's law enforcement officers, they have a good feel for recognising an overloaded truck. They are therefore likely only to stop and check those rigs that appear to be overloaded, rather than spend time and energy checking those that clearly appear to be within limits.

Roger Naisby
Unitrans

Unitrans: Mining and Forest Products Division Perspective

The year 2000 statistics are summarised as follows:

%
Total Tugela loads weighed: 111  100
Total legal loads: 73 66
Total fines: 38  34
Less axle mass distribution: (20) 18
Exceeding 58 800kgs: 18  16
The 18 loads exceeding 58 800kgs were distributed as follows:
Kgs above 5% tolerance
* 0-1000 11  61
* 1001-2000  22
* 2001-above  17

 

UNITRANS: 
MINING AND FOREST DIVISION PERSPECTIVE

The comments below bear relevance to the 18 loads exceeding the 58 800kg GCM limit only since it is common knowledge that the control of load distribution in the agricultural environment presents a steep challenge.

The fleet in question is fitted with Elphinstone onboard weighing devices at great expense (approximately R75 000 per unit). Admittedly, after-sales service has been sadly lacking due to the small quantities of units fitted locally to the extent that we would probably use a different manufacturer in future. This situation presented depot management with the task of maintaining weighing equipment with unqualified staff.
 
UNITRANS
A Unitrans truck offloading timber at Ngodwana. This is a particularly challenging environment in which to get the load right.

Furthermore, contractual obligations with our customer was based on utilising half of the 5% tolerance in order to avoid penalties on non-achievement of target payload. Consideration of the above (i.e. lack of efficiency of weighing devices), has forced both parties to concede on target payload to the extent that we have virtually eliminated fines for overloads since June 2001.

The fact that we were targeting a GCM of 57 400kgs is borne out by the spread of overloads analysed above i.e. 61% of overloads were at least within a 1 000 kgs tolerance. That we do not condone overloading is supported by the expense incurred of onboard weighing equipment.

We nevertheless record our embarrassment regarding this situation and assure you of our commitment to deal with this matter in appropriate fashion in the future.

Fil Morkel
General Manager
Mining and Forest products Division



UNITRANS: SUGAR DIVISION'S PERSPECTIVE
The Sugar Division does not condone overloading and in no way sets out to flaunt the law. Customer rate structures are based on the achievement of legal payloads and all contracts specifically set out the legal carrying capacities of the vehicles allocated to such contracts. Depot managers monitor payloads on a daily basis and all vehicles weighed at KZNPA weighbridges - and/or fined - are logged down and a data base maintained.

Driver awareness and training is on-going at all depots. Diagrams of what constitutes legal loads per vehicle type are published on the depot operations notice boards and every driver has received his own copy of these documents. Disciplinary steps are taken against those individuals who do not adhere to these requirements.

Details of each load delivered are available immediately after the vehicles are offloaded. This information is relayed to the driver and operations staff who can then take whatever action may be required to address any overload situation.

Ed's Comment: Rauff then goes on to sketch details of the environment in which the Sugar Division has to operate. It is not an easy one to get right in terms of ensuring legal payloads are adhered to and we publish his comments so as to, once again, to lead to a better understanding of the challenges operators are facing out there.

Sugar Cane
In KZN, sugar cane is harvested and loaded in two basic ways:

  1. By bundle.

  2. By loose loading of the cane.

Bundle cane
Bundles, usually between four to six tons in weight, are created by the cane cutters in the field. The bundles are secured with two "cane chains" and the bundles are then transported from the field to a loading zone by agricultural tractors and trailers. These bundles are loaded onto the Unitrans vehicles by means of a crane, most of which have a scale on them that gives an indication of each bundles' weight. In this way, an estimated payload weight is obtained. 

It is then sometimes found that, after loading the last bundle and opening the chains, that an overload has occurred and their is no way of adjusting the load downwards other than by manually offloading the cane stick-by-stick. Drivers and loader are instructed to tally up the bundle weights before opening the last bundles' chains to avoid this.

Although the total payload can be assessed in this way, axle overloads can occur due to not getting the distribution evenly spread across the axle groups. Bundle sizes do vary and do not easily allow for optimum placement within the trailers.

Loose loading
This cane is loaded by either by Bell Loader machines or other similar machines from the ground on the zones into the line haul trailers. There is no means of weighing what is being loaded and it is dependent on the driver of the truck and the loader driver to try meet the optimum load as set out in the aforementioned "legal load" diagrams. These diagrams set out the height to which the cane may be loaded to inside the trailers and are not to be exceeded.

These standards have evolved over time by trial and error and meet the norm in terms of sugar cane quality. Sugar cane quality varies significantly subject to climatic conditions and the variety as well as between burnt and green cane. The specific gravity of cane varies greatly even from the same field being harvested. This makes visual assessment of whether a trailer looks legally loaded - or is overloaded - impossible. This fact has been proved many times where similarly loaded trailers have shown big differences in payloads.

Operational Controls
Every sugar cane load delivered is weighed by the receiving mill. This information is then available to the driver and operations staff within a very short period of time. The operations controller then disseminates the information to the next truck loading from the same zone what the previous payload was and if necessary, the need to reduce it on the next load if it was found to be overloaded.

The cane grower also gets this information timeously and can also play his part in briefing his loading crew to adjust the loading pattern if necessary. This process is not fool-proof but does go a long way to keeping all players focused on achieving legal payloads.

There are, unfortunately, variations. For example, it may happen that the first few loads off a zone come from one field on the farm and the operations staff establish what the legal payload should look like. The next loads, however, come from another field on the farm or from another grower who shares the same zone. These loads then no longer fit the profile and are over or under loaded. The whole process is then repeated.

The fleet of vehicles in use in KZN on sugar cane are diversified and some vehicles are older than others. Those fitted with air bag suspensions have been fitted with air gauges that have been calibrated to indicate when a legal axle load has been achieved. This gives the drivers and loaders a target to work to. Some of the fleet have been fitted with Elphinstone electronic load cell systems and the viability of these is being assessed.

Environmental pressure on the sugar cane industry not to burn cane before harvesting is on the increase and this leads to a further transport problem. With the foliage left on the sticks of cane, it make the assessment of legal loads visually impossible. Although unburnt cane payloads are usually lower, there have been instances of overloads on trailers that appeared to be well loaded and within tolerance.

The use of the air gauges and Elphinstone equipment may assist in addressing the control of payloads but both types of equipment are designed to operate on level surfaces at the loading points. Loading zones regretfully do not generally meet this requirement and if they do to start off with they very soon deteriorate and become uneven. Cane is also often loaded at the roadside to a field which is not level.

Molasses
Molasses is a by-product of the manufacture of sugar and is hauled predominantly from the North coast to Durban. The five custom built vehicles used are fitted with Elphinstone on board weighing systems and the incidents of overloading has decreased to the three instances as shown in the survey under review.

The specific gravity of molasses also varies. When it is fresh and hot, the SG is lower but as it is allowed to settle in the big holding tanks and cools off, the air held in suspension escapes and the SG increases. Product surge and the settling of the load in the tanker sometimes leads to axle distribution overloads but as seen from the report, only three fines were incurred.

Bulk Sugar
This product is also conveyed in custom-built, bottom discharge tankers from several sugar mills to Durban. Bulk sugar quality is also subject to change dependent on the moisture content and percentage of molasses retained in the finished product. This presents a moving target to the loader and while use is made of marks within the tanker to show the optimum loading height, the variances in the product work against this. Once the vehicle departs on its trip, the sugar settles and sometimes results in a distribution problem and axle overloads do occur.

Fines and Weighing statistics

As mentioned before, all vehicle weighing and fines received are logged and when comparing these statistics against the official statistics report, there are discrepancies. This is due to the fact that the official report does not take into account those weigh-in-motion checks that are done with static weigh mats at various points in KZN, but especially at the Sezela mill, south of Durban.

These additional weighings increase the total number of Unitrans Sugar vehicles weighed from the 522 stated in the report to 1 146 actual - and this reduces the overload percentage from 17% to 8,8%. This in no way suggests that 8,8% is an acceptable number but does illustrate our focus on this problem and our endeavours to achieve consistent legal payloads. 

Operational Statistics.
To add some perspective, it is worth noting that during the period under review, the following tonnage's and trips were undertaken by Sugar Division vehicles (See Chart 1).

CHART 1
Product Tons  Trips Ave
p/load
Legal
p/load
No
weighed
No
fined
Sugar cane 963 000  31 950 30,15 32 245  56
Molasses  55 640  1 750 31  32.5 15  3
Pocket/bulk 
sugar
567 000 20 321 27,9 36 262  30
Effluent  31 000 967  32  33  -
Total  1 616640 54 988     522  89(17%)

NOTES

  • Unitrans Sugars' records show 1 146 weighed in total (8%).

  • These figures above are Sugar Division's actual number of vehicles weighed as taken off the report. The report shows 2 738 vehicles weighed and of this, Sugar's tally is 522.

  • If the number of vehicles fined is expressed as a percentage of the total number of trips done per product, a very small percentage figure is obtained. e.g. 56 fined out of 31 950 trips - 0,17% - and similarly for the other categories.

Management's focus on overloading extends from head office level down to the nine operating depot managers. These managers monitor their operations daily and take seriously any fines incurred and immediately take steps to address them. Drivers are continually reminded of their responsibilities to manage their payloads and to report on any problems that prevent them doing so.

Supervisors are used to assist growers/loaders with training to achieve better loading practices and to instil the need for their co-operation in achieving the ultimate goal of consistent legal compliance.

There is an ongoing commitment by the Sugar Division management to strive for zero tolerance in overloading by means of training all parties and seeking new technology to assist in reaching this objective.


Richard Rauff
Regional Manager
Unitrans Freight (Pty) Ltd
Sugar Division


REINHARDT TRANSPORT
With reference to your fax regarding the overload control report for 2000 issued by the KwaZulu Natal Department of Transport, we would like to submit the following comments:

If one looks at the overloading control report issued by the S.A. National Roads Agency (on the weighing statistics of Reinhardt Transport vehicles), it is quite evident when one looks at the percentage overloaded (85%) as opposed to the percentage charged (36%) that these are clearly cases of loads shifting while in transit thus causing one of the axles to be supposedly overloaded. Once the driver corrected/shifted the load, he was released. This is clear evidence that the truck was never really "overloaded". To back this statement up, I am also enclosing a copy of a weighbridge ticket one of our drivers received on 13/8/2001, in Ladysmith. (FleetWatch has on file all the attached copies referred to in this response).
A weighbridge ticket received by a Reinhardt Transport rig clearly highlights the widespread mass distribution problem being experienced by many hauliers.


I would like to state categorically that it is not our company's policy to overload. This statement can be justified by the fact that we have issued to each and every driver a loading schedule detailing the maximum allowed by law (copy attached). Furthermore, we also discipline our drivers should they overload.

To show you how serious we are in solving this problem, we are currently investigating the viability of installing load cells at our loading points as the majority of these operations only operate platform type weighbridges that only measure gross mass and not axles.

In our quest to find solutions to this problem, we are also constantly doing research and development in order to find a trailer that can legally accommodate the maximum payload. Thus the recent introduction of our tri-axle sloper. This is a safe and relatively "short" combination (only 10,7m) making it more acceptable to other road users - not the massive long train to negotiate should you want to overtake. 

In the July 2001 edition of FleetWatch, you published an article on air suspensions versus mechanical suspensions. Some of the significant points raised in this article are, and I quote:

  • Sufficient evidence exists to prove that air suspension does reduce road damage. 

  • European legislation of road friendly suspensions has forced the

 transporters in Europe to use air suspension - and there is a payload advantage both through reduced tare of around 70kg (depending on application) and via legislation, which also adds an extra ton per axle. Should South Africa be doing the same for the sake of reducing road damage? Should we not have one ton extra allowed on air suspension axles?

In South Africa, the cost of an air suspension is probably two times the cost of a mechanical suspension. Irrespective of this cost, Reinhardt Transport and Amalgamated Bulk run their entire fleet on air suspensions thus making our vehicles safer and more road friendly. Yet, we are still perceived as one of the main culprits on our roads, despite our investment and effort to make our vehicles the safest on our roads. 

Furthermore, we also run ABS /EBS disc brake systems on all our vehicles (tractors and trailers) which I am sure you will agree with us is the best system in the world. Another "safety" feature! I would like to also emphasis that we run double wheels as oppose to super singles on all our vehicles - again to be more road friendly.
REINHARDT TRANSPORT
Derick Reinhardt (left) and Fernando Lavos, MD of Amalgamated Bulk, strive hard to get the loads right across the entire fleet and like many other transporters, face mass distribution challenges.

In the SA National Roads Agency letter to us dated 25 April 2001, the threat was posed that the information regarding our alleged overloading would be published to our insurers. I would like to place on record that our company boasts an excellent insurance record. Our premiums are among the lowest in the business and this is a direct result of our low (almost non-existent) accident rate! We also have an excellent driver training program as well as a full time trainer for ongoing "on the job" training. Another world class effort to ensure that we contribute to our country's road safety.

Finally, I would like to pose the question whether our authorities have not perhaps taken their "eye off the ball" with the focus on axle overloading instead of true road safety and giving recognition to world class operators.


Robert Axer


SENTINEL LOGISTICS
Thank you for the opportunity to state our case. To help explain our position, let me first give the facts of our operation:

  • About 1.3% of our deliveries are "overloads" of which almost all are for weight distribution.

  • At least 90% of our tariffs are trip rates that do not reward overloading.

  • Overloading costs us time (utilisation) and money.

  • Overloading also effects our "on time" service levels.

  • Our customers load our trailers - we don't.

  • Our customers do not intentionally overload our trailers.

We are now labeled as a "top ten offender" - or villain - by those who do not know the true situation. My comments are: 

The current situation is clearly ludicrous and the gap in understanding needs to be closed. A few simple measures put in place can easily reduce the problem. For example:

  • The consignor of the cargo should also be charged, probably more so than the transporter.

  • All loads should be weighed before leaving major centers. (Prevention better than cure)

  • The penalty for persistent gross overloading should be harsh.

  • To be credible, published statistics need to reflect the problem fairly.

When we received our advice for "blatant disregard of the laws of our country" by the regional manager SA National Roads Agency, we contacted them immediately. Apart from stating our case, we strongly advised them that it would be in the interest of all concerned for industry leaders and Government decision makers to get together to agree how to improve the situation. Although this means another meeting, we are of the view this should take place.

M Kensett
Sentinel Logistics 


GRANITE CARRIERS
We hereby refer to your letter regarding overloading. Firstly, I would like to explain to the Minister and John Schnell of the KZN Traffic Department that 30 tons of feathers and 30 tons of granite, steel - or whatever - weighs exactly the same. The one product will not do more damage to the roads than the other.

I had various discussions with John Schnell (head of KZN Traffic Inspectorate) and Mr Knoetzen from the Training Department and their inspectors about weight distribution. I believe this is a money making racket for the government for if you want to load a vehicle 100 % correctly, you have to weigh the vehicle on a surface that is 100 % level. The slightest deviation will transfer the weight to the lowest end and your vehicle will be overloaded on that axle. There is not a piece of road 22 meters long that is 100% level in this country - if so, when it rains the water will be trapped on the roads.

When a truck goes up a hill, the weight will be transferred to the rear and your rear axles will be overloaded. When travelling downhill the weight transfers to the front and the front axles will be overloaded. Even so we have to obey these laws and try to solve the problem.

In 1999, we only transported granite from the Rustenburg area to Durban and Richardsbay and this is the time I had all the discussions with John Schnell and his army of inspectors. When Schnell was asked how we could solve the problem and if he could name a place where I could send the vehicles to make sure that the weight distribution was correct, he said I should send the vehicles from Marikana to Rustenburg to the traffic weighbridge and weigh the vehicles there. If the weight was out after that, we would not be fined due to the fact that we weighed the trucks in Rustenburg to make sure the weight was correct.
 

GRANITE CARRIERS
This was the biggest granite block ever transported by road in South Africa - legally of course. The company no longer carries granite because it was tired of being targeted by the authorities who, it says, regard granite as a road breaker.

The only problem was that if the weight was incorrect, the vehicles would not be allowed - by law - to leave the premises before the load was rectified. This meant that a crane from Johannesburg or Pretoria would have to come lift the block and move it maybe 10mm to the front or back. The cost of this would be around R18 000 and we only get paid R3 000 for the load.

As far as I know, there is no company in this country that has a weighbridge that can weigh trucks axle for axle. One of our vehicles was once weighed at the Estcourt weighbridge. The drive axles were overloaded and this load was moved seven times before it was right. (Note: There is a strong point here in that when loading, the driver only gets one chance to load it right and without a weighbridge). The vehicle then proceeded to Durban (with a fine and an account for rectifying the load) and when the driver got to Pietermaritzburg, he was taken to the weighbridge where he got fined again because the truck was now overloaded.

I told the inspector that the driver had the weighbridge slips from Escort and the inspector said it was not his problem if Estcourt didn't know how to do their job. The driver was fined again and again the load had to be rectified.

On another occasion, one of our trucks picked up a refrigerated container from Portnet in Durban harbour (which belongs to the Government). Travelling to Johannesburg, the vehicle was weighed at Estcourt and it was found that the drive axles were overloaded. The driver was fined because he did not use his x-ray vision to look inside the container to see how the meat was packed. Nevertheless, he was forced to break the seal on the container and pack the meat on the ground and then repack the meat to rectify the load. When I explained to the inspector that the load could be rejected if we opened the container, his answer was that the truck was not allowed to be moved.

This means that the Government overloads the truck and the Government fines the driver for overloading which is a typical of how the Government operates - is it not?

I would also like to challenge John Schnell and any of his inspectors, plus Minister Dullah Omar, to load a legal load on a truck without a weighbridge. It will be interesting to see how they get along. 

Here is another example of how pathetic our Government operatives can be. Our trucks which are loaded in Johannesburg bound for Cape Town travel for 1 000 km from Johannesburg to Beaufort West. Once there they are taken to the weighbridge. If one or more axle is overloaded, you have to rectify the load on the spot. Should this require a crane, you have to bring one from the Cape Town to do the job. Never mind the cost of the crane or the damage to the roads prior to that weighbridge.

Minister Omar please wake up. If you want to solve this problem and not budget for the fines you are going to collect to balance your books, here is an answer.

Install weighbridges at all major centres (not in the middle of the Karoo) with facilities to rectify loads at a decent cost. Make it law that all vehicles must be weighed and no vehicle may be fined before the weighing station. If caught after the weighbridge and the driver did not weigh his vehicle, then fine him. If you really want to get tough, after the third conviction, suspend the drivers license for five years.

You can even add to this. For example, should a vehicle get caught overloaded on gross, the shipper should be heavily fined - R10 000 for the first offence, R50 000 for the second and R100 000 for the third. Do this and the sender will not overload the vehicles.

On this note, I have delivery notes stating the mass of a load was 30 tons yet when the vehicle was weighed, the load was in fact 45 tons. This driver was innocent but they locked him up. It is also pertinent to remember that no-one but the shipper knows exactly what is inside a closed container and what the mass is. Only the sender knows and he should be held liable for any overload.

If the government implements these ideas, I guarantee that after six months, the minister will not find a single overloaded vehicle on the roads. The only problem is I don't know how the Minister is going to balance his budget without fines - so he will not do it.

C J BADENHORST
Granite Carriers Investments cc


PPC LOGISTICS
PPC Logistics is responsible for the movement of bricks for Corobrik in Natal. I am therefore replying on behalf of the company responsible for the transport of Corobrik product. (Ed's Comment: Corobrik was the company mentioned in the overloading report).

PPC Logistics agrees that overloading is the scourge of the trucking industry and we do everything in our power to avoid overloading vehicles. If one analyses the incidents of overloading, no fines were issued for gross combination mass overloading, again reinforcing our policy of not knowingly overloading. All the fines issued were for exceeding the permissible axle mass loads.

Corobrik has 36 different types of products of various weights. When scheduling the deliveries, the gross mass of the load is calculated to ensure that we comply with the legal limits. In the loading of the product, some of the pallets are incorrectly placed which results in axle overloading.

In the period under review, 26% of the PPC Logistics vehicles weighed were charged for being overloaded. In the corresponding period year to date, we have been able to reduce the number of incidents of overloading by 54%. We do not see this improvement as an acceptable level and are still working ferociously to totally eliminate this problem. 

R.S. Andrews
Managing Director
PPC Logistics