The future of road freight transport

South Africa’s total road network is the longest road network in Africa. While overall policy is the responsibility of the department of transport, the building and maintenance of roads is the responsibility of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), together with the nine provinces and local governments.


Having enjoyed considerable growth over the past two decades, the road freight industry is getting tougher each year. Operators are faced with ever-changing regulatory requirements in the form of increased tariffs, permits and licence fees, while e-tolls are reducing profit margins.

The road freight sector in South Africa is a major contributor to the local economy. It offers greater flexibility, speed and adaptability than the alternative of rail. Transporting goods between cities by road has long been the chosen mode for the transport industry.

The scope in the transport and logistics industry is varied – from a one-man show using a small truck, to a fleet of transport vehicles which travel the length and breadth of South Africa’s roads.

Forecasts indicate that the demand for freight transport in South Africa will grow by between 200% and 250% over the next 15 to 20 years. Some corridors, (high volume transport routes that connect major centres), such as the corridors between Gauteng and Cape Town (which amounts to 50% of all corridor transport) will increase even faster.

Looking to the future, South Africa’s economic growth hinges on a focused freight transport infrastructure overhaul. The way to achieve this will be by shifting freight traffic from road to rail. More than 80% of goods are transported on the road as it is more efficient, cost-effective, reliable and is great for tracking and door-to-door service.

Rail transport has a 20% market share of all shipments in South Africa and with the demand for freight transport, both rail and road can prosper.

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