Insights from Media Tour with N3TC
The Arrive Alive Online initiative was recently privileged to be invited to a media tour along the N3 from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg. The media tour itinerary made it clear this is much more than a road trip. It was a well-planned event with ample opportunity to engage, question, interview and gain important information to share with a much wider audience of road users.
We would like to share some insights on this tour and why the information gained is important for road safety. The aim of this media tour was to share relevant information and provide news and traffic journalists with an in-depth understanding of the daily challenges experienced in the management of this strategic transport corridor linking South Africa’s inland provinces to the Port of Durban.
N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) is the company managing and operating the N3 Toll Route between Heidelberg in Gauteng and Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal
Interesting facts: Did you know?
· The N3 Toll Route spans four provinces - Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
· Tens of thousands of freight and logistics operators move up and down the N3 Toll Route daily as it links South Africa’s landlocked provinces to the Port of Durban.
· Heavy vehicles constitute more than 30% of traffic on the N3 Toll Route.
· An average of 58-million tons of freight is carried along this corridor per annum.
· Traffic volumes average between 8500 to 13500 vehicles daily and spikes during peak traffic periods can be above 2000 vehicles per hour along sections of the Route.
With heavy vehicles making up 30% of road traffic along the N3, the Heidelberg Traffic Control Centre is a very important component in route maintenance and the prevention of overloading. This is a compulsory stop on the route with all heavy vehicles weighed before they are allowed to continue along the route.
We were introduced to these operational activities and witnessed several vehicles passing through the Control Centre. Some important observations:
· Not only has the total vehicle mass have to be within the limits [56ton], but also the weight on each axle needs to comply with legal requirements.
· The most significant damage to roads occurs when a truck travels with an excessive load on a specific axle.
· The personnel in the control centre record all the details not only about the weight carried, but also that of the operator and the nature of the load carried. [During our visit many of these loads were coal]
· The busiest days for heavy vehicle traffic are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
· When the total weight or the weight on a specific axle does not comply the vehicle is moved to a section of the facility where it must be corrected or moved to a new truck before the load is allowed back on the road.
· Both the first overloaded [or incorrectly loaded] heavy vehicle and the vehicle sent to transport any of the load found to be exceeding the limit will have to go through the Control Centre again.
De Hoek Toll Plaza
This stop was one of the most insightful. It may be my history in reading law and working in the compliance environment but this revealed in no uncertain terms the attention to detail in management of the N3 Route.
Judy van Es, CEO of the Tolcon Group, delivered a very informative presentation on how management of the toll route is audited, control mechanisms, compliance requirements etc.
A very important aspect mentioned is that this adheres to the strictest of international criteria.
Inspirational has also been the focus on community and employee development and the success stories of individuals who started as toll booth operators and who are now part of management and administrative structures within the group. The keyword = Pride
The media was then taken to witness fist-hand the workings of a toll plaza. None of us have ever been in a tunnel underneath a toll plaza - a rather unique and informative experience. Of interest as well was to see the various security and safety systems forming part of the toll plaza where vehicles pass through the plaza.
Observations from this visit:
· There are layers and layers of compliance requirements, protocols and checklists. This data is compared between the various toll plazas.
· Strict compliance, analysis and auditing contribute to a well- run operation.
· There is a zero tolerance approach to safety and sound financial management.
· Money is transferred via a drop-down system and extensive security systems are in place.
For more insights into the N3TC media tour visit: https://www.arrivealive.co.za/Managing-Safety-on-the-N3-Toll-Route