Border posts in southern Africa: costly chaos

Border posts in southern Africa: costly chaos

Border posts in this region have never been renowned for efficiency, to be honest. However, they seem to have sunk to a new low of late …

am receiving reports from cross-border transport operators each and every day and – when they concern border posts – they’re almost always negative. To be frank, it appears as though chaos reigns.

There has been widespread confusion when it comes to Covid testing and toll fees, and massive annoyance at the endless delays. Then, of course, there are the frustrations pertaining to systems that are constantly down. Plus, there is crime with which to contend. Right now, I certainly would not want to be a cross-border transport operator or truck driver; they have to have the most hideous jobs on the planet.

While transport operators are forking out more and more money in tests and toll fees (as one operator mentioned, road freight is now the cash cow of the sub-Saharan supply chain), the lives of drivers are being endangered. There’s the aforementioned crime, of course. But then there is the fatigue associated with endless queueing at the border posts. This can (and does) easily take days. Meanwhile, the drivers have no access to ablutions, fresh water, food or sleep. The lack of sleep is especially problematical; we all know that a tired driver is an exceptionally dangerous driver.

Sadly, it appears as though the border post officials don’t give a hoot about the situation – because they appear to be doing little to change it. Rather, they capitalise on the situation, demanding fees that end up in their back pockets. It’s a sad, sad situation.

It is also a very costly situation. Transport Logistics Consultants and Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta) have calculated the cost of delays – and it comes to an astronomical R12,4 million. That’s the cost per day. Not per month. The tragic thing is that this situation is unlikely to change.

Fesarta launches TRUCKParks Africa

Meanwhile, Fesarta has officially launched the TRUCKParks Africa programme, which is designed to improve the standards of truck parks in southern and east Africa. Fesarta has compiled standards covering three critical areas for truck parks. They cover security (fencing, access gates, 24 hour guards, video surveillance); comfort (ablutions, restaurant, fuel station, internet, electrical connections) and safety (dangerous goods parking, fire-fighting equipment, first aid facilities, clinic). The objective of the programme is to raise the standards of truck parks in the region.

There are two forms of accreditation, the first being self-accreditation which is done online via the Fesarta website at the link The truck park will receive a self-accreditation certificate, which indicates the ratings for the three accreditation levels of security, comfort and safety as shown below:

Truck parks that are not Fesarta members can obviously join the association too and subsequently receive accreditation (assuming that they meet the required minimum standards).

An app, which will help drivers locate accredited truck parks, is currently under development.

We reckon that this is a brilliant initiative – because it should help to make truck drivers’ lives a little bit easier and safer. Our hearts go out to those guys; as I have already stated, they have incredibly tough (and, at times, dangerous) jobs.

Published by

Charleen Clarke

CHARLEEN CLARKE is editorial director of FOCUS. While she is based in Johannesburg, she spends a considerable amount of time overseas, attending international transport events – largely in her capacity as associate member of the International Truck of the Year Jury.
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