AS heavy goods vehicles come under attack in the country, their exposure to the risks of protesting and criminal activity has remained very high because they have no alternative but to continue on their normal routes to fulfil their customers’ needs.
Since July of this year, 21 trucks have been set alight in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
In response to the escalating situation, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has deployed soldiers in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Free State. The primary purpose of this deployment is to provide support to the police service in managing the situation and maintaining law and order. Whilst these resources provide support, companies are still left to deal with the direct damaging effects on their own.
Managing director of the facilities management company, Servest Security’s business unit, George Fitzroy, says the company is acutely aware of the detrimental impact these protests are having on logistics and fleet companies specialising in the transportation of valuable goods. “If these acts persist, the country will face economic hardship, as the cost of automobiles, freight, personal belongings, road repairs, transportation delays, and shipping penalties will rise,” he says.
According to a Statistics SA Land Transport report, there was an 18.3% increase in the volume of goods transported by road in January 2023 compared with January 2022. However, this growth comes with challenges, as delays in moving trucks can cost transporters between R5 000 and R7 500 per day. Moreover, incidents of looting or damages on the road can result in losses amounting to millions of rands, according to the Road Freight Association.
Fitzroy adds that in order to address these challenges, logistics companies should embark on cost-efficient intelligent security solutions for each of their trucks on the road.
“To prevent any form of attack on vehicles, companies need to increase their lines of defence by incorporating geo data with remote shutdown capabilities, coupled with routing rosettes and emergency preparation for high-risk areas.
“The security of heavy goods vehicles while in motion has never been more critical. Transport providers need to recognise the urgency of investing in the most advanced technologies and establishing effective protocols to ensure optimal risk mitigation. Fortunately, there is a wide range of innovative technologies readily available to transport providers,” says Fitzroy.
He emphasises the importance of logistics companies adopting best practices, which involve enhancing digital security. In addition, utilising visibility technology to track cargo in real-time has proven effective in eliminating internal theft and in preventing organised criminal networks’ attempts to take control of the cargo.
According to Fitzroy, it is crucial to make all the details of your security public.
“It’s a good idea to let your employees and any potential threats know that shipments and storage spaces are being actively monitored, as this can act as a deterrent and can enhance the overall security position.
“Over the past three years, commercial trucks have been vulnerable to opportunistic attacks as well during protests, and accurately assessing or predicting risk areas and hotspots has proven challenging. It is, therefore, of utmost importance for logistics companies to engage professional Security companies with strong capability that offer specialised security infrastructure to effectively handle these kinds of high-risk eventualities, particularly in protecting transport and logistics facilities, terminals, and warehouses,” Fitzroy says.
“By doing so, logistics companies can have peace of mind that their safety is in good hands and redirect their focus to their core logistics operations. Such a collaborative approach not only mitigates risks for their businesses but also strengthens the overall performance of the logistics industry,” he concludes.