RTMS Newsletter March 2021

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Smart Truck (PBS) Pilot Project Update

Many of you are aware of the Performance-based standards (PBS) pilot project in South Africa, which started in 2007 with two PBS vehicles operating in the forestry industry in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

During the past 13 years, the pilot project has slowly grown to include several industries with a range of goods, with around 600 trucks now operating throughout the nine provinces. In September 2020, an evaluation report was submitted to the Director-General at the national Department of Transport, which includes a summary of the measured benefits after 200 million truck km, and recommendations on the way forward for the project.

Benefits calculated at the time include an average fuel saving of 17%, a 23% reduction in truck km, a 13% reduction in road wear and a 45% reduction in truck crashes per million km (compared with conventional baseline vehicles). The DoT EXCO will review the report and are expected to decide whether a provision for PBS vehicles should be made in the South African National Road Traffic Act.

Fortunately, the PBS concept is being recognised in other countries in the Southern African region, and a PBS pilot project in Namibia is gathering momentum with several PBS projects in the pipeline, the first of which are expected to start operating in the next month or two. Although Mozambique has not started a formal PBS project, they do not have a combination mass limit (only axle load limits), so a number of South African 22m (legal length) 72-tonne PBS side-tippers are operating on the corridor between various mines in South Africa and the Maputo harbour in Mozambique.

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