While I was collating the truck sales data for PowerTorque’s story about global truck sales, I came across data about the cost of Covid for trucking in Africa. The figures quoted by Charleen Clarke of Focus on Transport and Logistics magazine from South Africa, made me realise just how lucky we have been in dodging the bullet (so far, to a certain extent) from the pandemic.
We have had problems at borders and difficulties getting adequate testing done when it was required. there were also other cost spikes around particular problems around the country and even seen border closures. all of these issues seem to pale into insignificance as Charleen lists the issues facing the South African industry. We also need to remember that, in African terms, South Africa is quite a sophisticated trucking industry, when compared to the rest of Africa.
“The requirement of 72-hour validity on entry to a country is creating a huge challenge for transporters, especially for countries like Zambia and Malawi, where it is impossible to get tested in South Africa and arrive at a Zambian border within 72 hours,” says Charleen.
“This means the driver must be retested at the costs being applied for testing in the country before entry into Zambia (for instance, in Zimbabwe in this case at $60 per test which will carry you through to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but you must now be retested in DRC at a cost of $45 before entering Zambia, which will then carry you back to South Africa).”
This means that each driver must be tested three times on every trip from South Africa to DRC and back at a total cost of $60 in South Africa, $60 in Zimbabwe and $45 in DRC. Some of the these fleets which operate this route regularly will typically do 100 round trips per month at an additional cost which is non-recoverable from their clients or the importer/cargo owner.
Just to put the icing on the cake, international freight rates have dropped drastically during the Covid-19 lockdown. A South Africa to DRC load was paid at $300/tonne with $200/tonne on the return leg. Since the Covid crisis the rates have dropped to $220/tonne going north and $160/tonne coming back, a drop in income per round trip of 24 per cent.
To add to the African truckie’s woes, the cost of diesel has increased substantially over the last year, as have driver wages, the cost of tyres, vehicle maintenance, cross-border charges across the region and the cost of Cross Border Permits.
We think we have it tough!