Saturday, 28 August 2021 19:21

Staff Reporter.

Gauteng MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure, Jacob Mamabolo, has emphasised the importance of securing the N3 as a Smart Freight Corridor.

"While this initiative is still at its early stage, our success to secure the N3 as a Smart Freight Corridor will serve as a benchmark and a standard for replication and expansion to other corridors," the MEC said.

Addressing a virtual freight workshop for participants to highlight the effects of the recent unrest and its impact on operations, Mamabolo said smart technologies for data management and security based on trust between stakeholders is critical for the initiative to grow the economy and create jobs.

The MEC joined the workshop under the theme, ‘Securing and Restoring the N3 as a Smart Freight Mobility Corridor’, as envisaged in the Growing Gauteng Together Through Smart Mobility Plan.

The plan looks at taking advantage of the province’s current standing as a gateway to Africa in order to position it as the freight and logistics hub for the country and the continent.

While the workshop was held in response to recent disruptions to freight movement along the N3, the department has been working on strengthening relations to ensure its development as a Smart Freight Corridor.

Forty key industry associations were present, marking the importance of the engagements. As its main objective, participants also engaged on practical solutions to making the N3 a safe corridor for movement of freight.

"The workshop also provided a safe platform for government and the broader industry to engage intensely to find ways to minimise risks that could lead to loss of or threat to life, food and medical security, damage to infrastructure and loss of livelihoods, as well as to build trust and confidence," the department said.

In seeking a lasting solution, participants from the Road Freight Association, C-track (Transport and Freight Index), South African National Roads Agency, Department of Transport, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other partners from Logistics Indicator Development Partners, GESI - Germany, also reflected on the unrest, the corridor’s status quo and the way forward.

Issues covered included the elevation of the role of the N3 in the economy of the country; the deployment of available technologies to restore the stability of the corridor; the vision of the N3 as a smart freight corridor; the importance of safety and security to along the corridor; the role of data management and sharing for effective traffic management.

The meeting identified the need for collaborative logistics by both the public and private sector.

In the short-term, the stakeholders resolved that two key outcomes need to be delivered:

  • The development of a concise and detailed project plan to be ratified by the Gauteng Freight Forum in its next sitting; and
  • The partnering of the industry’s vaccination drive with that of the Department of Health. 

The forum was established in July 2021 with the following organisations as members:

  • The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA);
  • The Road Freight Association (RFA);
  • The South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF);
  • The South African Express Parcel Association (SAEPA); and
  • The Transport Forum.