With the growth of international trade, goods travel longer distances than they did 10 years ago. Changes in the business environment such as the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy and the advent of freight logistics have also altered production, distribution and freight management techniques. Additionally, shifts in domestic economic activity to the suburbs and suburban malls, growing congestion on the nation’s roads, heightened concerns about transportation security and capacity complicate the changing scenario. The efficient and effective movement of freight is critical to the nation’s economy and must be prioritised in the face of these changing circumstances.
South Africa`s economy is heavily reliant on the trade of goods and services, and freight demand will grow as their volume increases over time. In this light, an efficient and effective freight transport system is of paramount importance for the sustenance of our current rate of economic growth. An inefficient, high-cost freight system impacts on the cost of transporting goods from origin to destination. Higher transportation costs could reduce the competitiveness of the South African business environment making it hostile and very difficult to manoeuvre.
Despite the interrelationship between freight and passenger movements, transportation-related problems affecting passengers attract more attention than problems affecting freight. As a consequence there is a lack of widely available data to inform decisions about freight transportation issues. Analysis of the effectiveness and costs of alternative options for mitigating congestion in urban areas requires better data on patterns of freight movements. Metropolitan planning authorities typically have detailed origin-destination data on commuting patterns. However, data on truck movements in metropolitan areas is often scanty and lacks details of trip origins and destinations and the commodities being transported.
The Gauteng province is the economic hub of South Africa and is strategically positioned to provide optimal conditions for the movement of goods in South Africa and the Southern African region. Inefficient freight transportation systems and lack of access to economic nodes and corridors have been identified as the major constraints that will affect the Province’s global and regional competitiveness and economic growth. To address the issue, the government through its state operated enterprises and national & provincial structures has developed strategies to intervene in the freight and logistics issues to ensure greater efficiency in the transportation of goods, lowering the cost of doing business and enhancing economic productivity in the country.
Through a sustained effort of a range of government departments, a National Freight Logistics Strategy (NFLS) was developed to build on the existing infrastructure and operations and set a clear framework for addressing the challenges that constrain some areas of the freight system. The NFLS identified the key challenges within the South African freight system as follows:
“The freight system in South Africa is fraught with inefficiencies at system and firm levels. There are infrastructure shortfalls and mismatches; the institutional structure of the freight sector is inappropriate, and there is a lack of integrated planning. Information gaps and asymmetries abound; the skill base is deficient, and the regulatory frameworks are incapable of resolving problems in the industry.”
Various other legislation and strategies such as the National Land Transport Act 2009, National Development Plan 2030, Gauteng Freight Implementation Strategy, the 25 Year Gauteng Integrated Transport Master Plan, Gauteng City Region 10 pillar programme and Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy all seek a common goal. They aim to increase economic efficiency by improving regional flow of goods through the establishments and expansion of freight & logistics hubs, thereby increasing the capacity of freight terminals for current & future container demands, create job opportunities and encourage a modal shift from road to rail.
To augment the above strategies, the government identified the Durban-Free State- Gauteng (DFSG) Freight Development Corridor (2050 Vision) through the Strategic Infrastructure Project 2 (SIP2) as a strategic corridor to alleviate challenges facing freight movement and logistics of heavy goods. The corridor will strengthen the logistics and transport corridor between South Africa’s main industrial hubs and is intended to promote not only better transport of goods between the end points, but to also boost economic development in towns and rural areas along the way.
The following are the objectives of collecting freight data:
In 2014, demand for land freight transport was 848 million tonnes. Agriculture and mining make up the primary economy. Agriculture was responsible for 10% of total volume and only contributed 10% to the transportable GDP. Mining was responsible for 66% of total volume and only contributed 34% to the transportable GDP. In contrast, the secondary (manufacturing) sector was responsible for 24% of total volume but added 56% value to the transportable GDP as shown in the figure below (Logistics barometer, 2016).
Source: Logistics barometer, 2016
The data bank is structured as illustrated in the image below:
The development of the Gauteng Freight data bank involved significant data collection for the four freight modes in Gauteng (road, rail, air and pipeline) as follows:
This Freight Data Bank provides an understanding on the current and future movement of freight into and around Gauteng. The Gauteng freight data bank could be used as an input tool to the development of future transport policy, and the development of world class transport infrastructure to better support Gauteng`s globally competitive firms. It will also help inform economic, environmental and social policy issues related to freight. Furthermore, the information will be useful in measuring and streamlining the effectiveness of planning documents such as the 25 year Integrated Transport Master Plan. It will also provide information on the effectiveness of policies such as the migration of freight from road to rail