​April 2014: Talking earlier this month at the opening of the SA National Roads Agency’s (SANRAL) Central Operations Centre, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe named an inadequate road system as a key constraint to economic growth. Companies grapple with this shortcoming on a daily basis, with transport being a critical component of numerous industries.  

Businesses involved in logistics and transportation will be well aware of the financial losses caused by the roads on which their fleets travel. According to the SA National Planning Commission, a total of 20 percent of our paved road network is currently classified as being in a “poor” or “very poor” condition.

Add to this the fact that every year more and more vehicles – both private, commercial and freight – are placing increasing pressure on our roads. Naturally South Africa’s economic hubs such as Gauteng, experience the greatest volume growth. Although it’s the smallest province in terms of land space and according to the Gauteng Province’s Department of Road and Transport, it has the least length of roads in the country, Gauteng produces the highest vehicle kilometres for heavy goods vehicles, including the highest number of registered trucks, and highest fuel sales in the country.

Traffic volumes are believed to be escalating by around 7% per year in the corridor between Johannesburg and Pretoria in Tshwane.

Yet despite growth in allocations to provincial authorities, the road network continues to deteriorate. Mike van Wyngaardt, Executive for Tracker Business, leading tracking and fleet management solutions company says, “The logistics costs of ineffective roads to business are far-reaching. Fleet managers are faced with higher vehicle maintenance and repairs, possibly damage to cargo, greater fuel consumption and delays. Poor roads and resulting traffic congestion pose additional challenges to fleet owners so the only way to limit losses is to use intelligent GPS routing.”

Companies that use fleet management solutions are gaining a significant competitive advantage over those that aren’t, according to van Wyngaardt. “Traffic congestion impacts the entire supply chain by causing delays, wasting fuel and ultimately adding to the cost of every product that a consumer purchases at their supermarket,” he says.

Tracker Business, powered by TomTom, literally removes the inefficiencies associated with road transport by combining the world’s most accurate traffic information with dynamic route guidance technology. Rather than simply informing the driver of the current traffic situation Tracker Business powered by TomTom through its HD Traffic capability will actively guide the driver along the least congested route, taking into account toll roads, road closures and any other issues that may cause delays and excessive idling.

Through it’s relationship with TomTom, Tracker Business provides high definition traffic information that is regarded as the most accurate in the world, covering more road kilometres on both secondary and main roads.

Given the vast geographical distances in South Africa and the fact that the bulk of activity is concentrated in the centre – being Gauteng – companies involved in transportation incur high associated internal logistical costs. Customised fleet management is imperative to their sustainability and intelligent traffic and route navigation is critical in support thereof.

Roads constitute a huge component of planned and actual infrastructure allocation, however, effectiveness is hampered by maintenance backlogs, the need for continued attention to all elements of the asset lifecycle (construction, upgrading and maintenance) and the complexity of multiple players within the process. The many challenges facing South Africa’s road networks aren’t going to be solved anytime soon meaning that traffic congestion is an on-going reality that businesses will need to circumvent for the foreseeable future. ​