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Unresolved legislation that rules road transport of High Cube containers in South Africa as illegal remains a concern for the SA Fruit industry and other road transport users

It has been more than a decade since this issue was raised and there is still no solution to South Africa’s contentious high-cube container legislation problem. According to regulation 224 (b) of the National Road Traffic Regulation Act, when containers are transported on the back of a trailer, they may not exceed a height of 4.3m, a hight restriction that is significantly lower than global norms. The combined height of a vehicle transporting a high-cube container is currently 4.6 m, which is 300 mm above the legal limit. This regulatory anomaly puts South Africa’s trade and logistics regime out of step with international trade. As High Cube containers account for 90% of global container movement, South African fruit industry and other road users transporting High Cube containers in South Africa could be faced with a potentially economically crippling and disastrous situation if this legislation were to be enforced.

The minister of Transport placed a moratorium on the enforcement of regulation 224(b) in 2019 which was effective until the beginning of 2020. The road transport industry has been lobbying the Department of Transport for some years to address the legislative gap that exists, because regulation 224 (b) is in effect until it is either suspended, repealed or changed in a Government Gazette. Subsequently a task team was established to specifically to investigate this issue. Currently, there is no further commitment to place a moratorium on the enforcement/implementation of Regulation 224 (b). This government task team has not convened for more than a year and no progress has yet been forthcoming on fundamentally resolving the issue.

As things stand, it is illegal to transport ISO containers (high cubes) at a laden height exceeding 4.3m. This means that the ‘consignors/consignees’ are contravening this height restriction. Other risks include possible insurance repudiation in the event of an accident involving the transport of the high cube containers. While this legislation is not currently being enforced, the road transport sector remains deeply concerned about the current status quo.

Sources: engineering news.co.za, www.freightnews.co.za


Photo: Trucks with High Cube containers. Louise Brodie

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