FTW pick: High cube task team fails to reach consensus

Less than two months after Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, stepped in to calm the waters in the high cube saga, industry and government officials are yet again at loggerheads.

According to a source, the task team, made up of industry and government officials instructed by the minister to come up with a solution to the high cube dilemma, is seemingly not on the same page.

From January 2019 the movement of containers exceeding a height of 4.3 metres will be illegal, but Nzimande has said no penalties will be imposed for 12 months. High cube containers measure 2.9m, and when transported on the back of a normal transport vehicle, exceed the height of 4.3m.

A moratorium implemented in 2011 has allowed the movement of these containers at a height of 4.6m. With no trailers available to allow for high cubes to be moved at 4.3m and faced with the prospect of congestion at the country’s ports, Nzimande stepped in at the last minute and gave industry a 12-month reprieve.

At the meeting in October, Nzimande instructed industry and government officials to form a task team and to report back to him in June next year. A meeting was held in November for the establishment of terms of reference with a second meeting scheduled for early December.

But less than two months into the process cracks are already showing.

“Government officials are seemingly only looking to find a way of implementing the existing regulations come 2020, while industry wants to see government change the terms of reference,” said the source.

It remains unclear whether a second meeting will take place in December as there is not yet consensus over the terms of reference for the task team. It has also become known that John Motsatsing, a director with the Department of Transport, will be the project manager.

Motsatsing and industry have been at loggerheads over the high cube issue for years with not much love lost between the parties.

“There was much relief from industry when Mr Motsatsing disappeared off the scene and when the minister stepped in to address the situation, but now it seems he is back.”

Various industry stakeholders approached for comment said it was still early days. They were however optimistic that a solution would be reached that would suit both government and industry, but if one thing is clear, it’s that there is still a tough battle ahead.


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