International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is calling for better control of the declaration of container weights offered for shipment. At the same time there is a rising trend in the weights of import and export containers through South African ports.
At the same time the metropolitan traffic authority in Durban has abandoned the weighbridge built to control overloading of vehicles around the port. This leaves the area wide open to the cowboys and crooks amongst the 5000 vehicles per day that use Bayhead Road to access the Durban Container Terminal, the Island View chemicals storage and the Bluff bulk terminals.
The latest overloading report from KZN:RTI showed that the top 10 overloads in the province were containers and 35.5 % of tankers are overloaded. The presence of large numbers of interlink bulk tippers carrying minerals, grain and feeds adds to the proportions of overloaded vehicles.
It is a disastrous situation that South Africa’s two main container ports, Cape Town and Durban now have no effective vehicle weighing capacity in the immediate port precinct. Cape Town expert, Peter Newton has added his voice to the call for better control of containers presented for shipment and in Durban, Kevin Martin of Durban Harbour Carriers Association has voiced the concerns of the association at the lack of control of overloading by carriers with all the implications of predatory competition and unsafe operations.
Between 2000 and 2005 the Bayhead weighbridge, run by a private company reduced the level of overloading from 38% to 7% over about 2 years, before being taken over by Durban Metro police in 2005. The deteriorating operational efficiency, connivance and cost has now resulted in closure and redeployment of staff, leaving the road transport, shipping and forwarding industries wide open to overloading abuse.