I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again. Thank goodness I am associated with the trucking industry of South Africa. If I weren’t, I’d be in a total state of despair given the amount of bad news we get fed on a daily basis. The bad news is being created by many sectors – mainly political – and is having an extremely adverse effect on the confidence and morale of the citizens of our country. The actions of the trucking industry, however, are having the opposite effect by creating confidence and hope in the future. The pity is – so few see this, so let’s enlarge. Over the past few weeks I have been privileged to attend a number of trucking industry functions all of which involved investment bucks coming into this country to ensure the good health of the companies themselves, the trucking industry as a whole, the growth of the economy and the creation of much needed jobs.
On the East Rand, Hyundai Commercial Vehicles officially announced the roll-out of another phase of its
R110-million investment into South Africa. This was the opening of the SKD assembly plant to assemble the H100 bakkie in this country. With this added activity, the number of jobs created in the factory since it opened last year has risen to 60. However, Hyundai’s research shows that each employee has a direct spin-off on at last another seven people which means this assembly plant is now impacting positively on the lives of some 420 South Africans. Well done Hyundai.
Let’s now go to the Pinetown factory of MAN Truck & Bus where a truly remarkably advancement on the environmental front has taken place. Without any prompting or legislative decrees from government, MAN took it upon itself to invest R10-million in the installation of a photovoltaic (solar) system which now enables the complete truck and bus-chassis assembly plant to operate entirely off solar energy. Not only does this system generate power for the MAN plant but there is a surplus of energy that can be supplied to the metropolitan (eThekwini) grid. So here again, we have yet another example of a company within the trucking industry contributing positively not only to the country’s immediate well-being and growth but also towards preserving the environment for present and future generations.
Let’s now go to the Legends Golf Resort where UD Trucks Southern Africa launched its long awaited Quester truck range. What makes this range significant is that this is the first time UD Trucks Japan has specifically developed a truck range with African fleet owners in mind. It is, according to Rory Schultz, MD of UD Trucks Southern Africa, a unique product that will “support the development of emerging economies.” As is well known, the government has for a long time been talking about throwing vast sums of money at infrastructural projects in South Africa and here again, we have a company from the trucking industry which has spent billions of Rand on developing a truck range that will – along with others makes in the market – allow such projects to be successfully implemented. Without trucks, no infrastructure can be built. So well done to UD Trucks on this one.
Let’s now pop over to Gerotek outside of Pretoria where Tata Motors recently launched its second generation Prima range of trucks. Named as the World-Smart-Truck, this range was built with technical inputs from across the world – Italy, the US, Europe, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Korea and Sweden. So here again, a company within our industry is bringing international expertise from across the world onto our shores to enable South Africa to have the tools to keep the wheels of the economy turning. Well done Tata.
And talking of keeping the wheels of the economy turning, it is essential that trucks are well maintained so as to ensure they experience minimum downtime. In this regard, the Volvo Group SA recently opened its new Regional Distribution Centre at an investment of approximately R60-million. It houses more than 52 000 parts. Christer Svärd, senior vice president of Volvo Group Logistics Services who visited South Africa for the opening, told FleetWatch the facility is in line with the Volvo Group’s international standards aimed at bringing world-class service to our market. Well done to the Volvo Group. And let’s not forget the opening towards the end of last year of the R800-million Iveco truck and bus assembly plant in Rosslyn which has created up to 1 000 job opportunities; or the R600-million invested by FAW into a truck plant opened last year in the Coega industrial development zone outside of Port Elizabeth with 350 job opportunities created. All of the companies mentioned here have their head-offices outside of South Africa and are doing a sterling job in supporting South Africa with world-class products and services.
Now let’s compare all this positive contribution to the negative contribution of a visiting politician – one whose only ‘investment’ in South Africa has been millions of his citizens fleeing his country in search of a better life. I refer to President Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, who recently paid a two-day visit to our country. When leaving the Hector Peterson Memorial in Soweto, a journalist from the SABC asked him a question. He stopped briefly to answer and then retorted curtly: “I don’t want to see a white face,” before walking on. Obviously he spotted a ‘white’ journalist in the crowd. It may even have been a member of the public. Thanks for nothing for that contribution Mr Mugabe. By using those eight small words, you managed to add fuel to the fires of racialism – already a vexing problem in South Africa – rather than help douse the flames. If that had been President Nelson Mandela, he would have put his hand out to greet the owner of that sole ‘white face’ in the crowd. His action would have enhanced rather than broken down relationships. That’s what politicians are meant to do. Create environments that enhance rather than erode the greater good of nations. It seems to me that the trucking industry is doing more in this arena than any local – or visiting – politician. Through the actions of the companies outlined above – and there are many more examples from this industry – hope is injected into the future. The actions of many politicians have exactly the opposite effect. It’s a sorry and sad imbalance. FleetWatch lifts it hat to the trucking industry of South Africa. We salute you.