Freight logistics by road is one of the most effective modes of transport for countries in Southern Africa, and indeed is the only option available at certain stages of the freight’s journey toward its final destination. It is of particular importance when hauling freight to and from our nearby landlocked neighbours – Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. There is also a significant road haulage network between South Africa and Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana, and well beyond, into much of central Africa.
Even within our own borders, road freight logistics is vital in getting cargo from land-locked cities like Pretoria and Johannesburg, to coastal cities and vice versa. For these reasons, road freight haulage must be a major consideration in your domestic and international freight logistics, even if your main modes of transportation are by air and sea.
When deciding whether or not to make use of a road freight logistics operator, there are several factors that should be taken into account:
Speed of travel
Although road freight is slower than freight by air or rail, it is actually a competitive mode of transport in terms of cost versus speed. This is because road freight services usually control the movement of the goods all the way from its origin to destination, with none of the delays involved in handing cargo from one railway or airport authority to another.
Depth of Distribution
Southern Africa has a well-developed road network that allows for delivery door-to-door, or to a convenient point nearby. In many rural areas, rail and air are simply not a practical option when weighed against road haulage.
Road freight haulage rates tend to be lower than those offered by air transport. However, it should be noted that insurance costs are likely to be higher due to the increased risk of road haulage in African countries. In some African states, the need for insurance against damage or loss due to war, riots and civil unrest is unfortunately an all-too-real possibility. It is for this reason that many logistics companies prefer road movements to be paid for prior to departure on home soil in South Africa.
Customs clearance is the cause of many unnecessary delays at international border posts. Exporters and their freight forwarders need to be sure that all relevant documentation has been obtained and carefully filled in to make the cargo’s journey as smooth as possible. This includes documents such as bills of entry, commercial invoices, road consignment notes, import permits and packing lists.