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The South African fruit export sector has warned that a lack of sufficient truck capacity to transport the 3m tonnes of containerised fresh fruit in 151,000 Hi Cube containers which is expected to be produced by 2020, will have a major negative impact on the country’s agricultural sector and could severely hurt export volumes in the future.

This comes after news emerged last week that new regulations regarding the height of these containers when transported on the fleet of trailers currently used by haulers on South African roads, will be enforced from 1 January 2019.

This has already resulted in the port company Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) warning that it will not off-load empty High Cube containers from vessels in South African ports from 1 November 2018 unless shippers and haulers can prove that they are able to forward them on.

Haulers have indicated that they will only be able to give these assurances until December 2018, warning that from 1 January 2019, if nothing changes and empty containers arrive in South African ports, they will very quickly block the ports.

The fruit industry has now issued a memorandum via its umbrella body, Fruit South Africa, indicating that the enforcement of the new height restrictions will threaten the future of the R24bn export industry.

Hi Cube containers, when transported on a standard 1.6m-deck height trailer, result in an overall height of +/- 4.5m, 20cm over the legislated limit. There is not nearly enough container trailers of the lower height required available in South Africa to legally transport the Hi Cube containers on South Africa’s roads.

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