The international standard for intermodal shipping containers ensures their footprints are the same so they are stackable. The standard height is approximately 2,5 meters, although the high cube container version at approximately 2.9 meters has become increasingly popular. Shippers say this reduces handling slightly because there is more volume per vehicle.
The South African Department of Transport wants to ban the high cube container version from the nation’s roads. They say it exceeds the permitted vehicle height when on a transporter.
The country would face chaos at its ports if the Department meets its avowed intention to ban them outright on January 1, 2019. Just imagine incoming high cube containers stacking up at container handling depots in Cape Town and Durban. The chaos at inland border posts would be unimaginable.
The Cape Town Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a Transport and Transport Infrastructure Portfolio Committee meeting on 6 August, 2018. It wanted to know the effect of a high cube container ban on trade.
The chair of the Exporters Club Western Cape said it was vital for the industry to reach an agreement with government. This was because more containers would be crossing South Africa’s borders under the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.
“There is an incredible potential, he said. “We can’t say, ‘We’re sorry, you can’t use your trailers, because trailers in Zimbabwe are different to South Africa.’ “Every bit of trade that we have we’ve got to fight for,” he added.
The president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed concerns over the cost of converting high cube container transporters. This could be in the region of R300,000 per trailer (US$ 25,000 at 12:1).
After the high cube container task team failed to reach consensus, the minister announced there would be no penalties during 2019. However it is unclear whether officials and shippers will come any closer during next year. Perhaps it is time to take the high road and put workers in the transport and agriculture industries first.
If there is a road bridge in South Africa a high cube container could damage, could somebody please send the coordinates and a photo?