Analysis of freight movement activities in the Sedibeng region
There is a need for understanding the movement of freight and its characteristics, because of its importance in promoting efficiency and economic growth. Therefore, freight involves the movement of goods, across infrastructure elements using vehicles, to where people needs them most. Freight movement activities are normally performed by private companies using public infrastructure and governed by regulations that are implemented by public authorities. The study seeks to examine and get insight into freight movement activities, as related to economic growth by the private companies as well as how the public authorities respond in providing necessary public transporting infrastructure, plans and regulations. The National Freight Logistic Strategy defines freight system in South Africa as fraught with inefficiencies at the system and firm levels. There are infrastructure shortfalls and mismatches, the institutional structure of the freight sector is inappropriate, and there is a lack of integrated planning. Information gaps and asymmetries abound, the skill base is deficient and regulatory frameworks are incapable of resolving problems in the industry (Gauteng Fright, 2017:4). The Sedibeng Integrated Transport Plan (ITP) has identified a gap in the need to assess the state of the freight and logistics in the region (Sedibeng District Municipality, 2008:170). The largest contributor to the Gross Value Added by Region (GVA-R) is manufacturing, followed by finance, community services, trade, transport, electricity, construction, mining and agriculture. The total contribution of transport increased from R2.946 billion in 2005 to R3.567 billion in 2015, which amounts to an increase of 2.11% per annum over the last ten years. In Gauteng, contribution increased from R70.623 billion to R98.520 billion over the same period and amounts to an increase of 3.95% per annum, which is above the Sedibeng region. The total employment in transport for the Sedibeng Region increased from 6 558 in 2005 to 11 005 in 2015, which amounts to an increase of 6.78% per annum. Manufacturing, the largest sector in terms of number of employment in the Sedibeng Region, increased from 38 227 in 2005 to 42 405 in 2015, which amounts to 1.09% per annum, over the last ten years. In comparison to the Gauteng Province, which increase its employment in the transport sector from 155,291 in 2005 to 259,726 in 2015, which amounts to 6.73% per annum over the last ten years. The study took a route of pragmatic paradigm, a clear mixed method approach, using qualitative and quantitative questionnaire for respondents. The respondents consisted of 20 top transport-related businesses within the Sedibeng District Municipal region and 8 relevant departments from Gauteng province, Sedibeng district and local municipalities. The departments targeted were Transport, Economic Development, Traffic and Roads, according to their level of authority as related to the function. There were five sets of questionnaires. The first directed to road authorities, second to economic departments, third to traffic departments, fourth to transport departments and fifth to private sector businesses. The survey results showed that there are significant freight movement activities that come in and out of the region. The areas that showed strong trade with the region were the City of Johannesburg, the City of Tshwane and the City of Ekurhuleni. What were also found were significant trading movement activities within the region and noticeable trading with Africa and rest of the world. There was also absence of relationship on freight movement activities between private and public sector. The European Commission affirmed that transport and logistics represent a substantial share of business and of household expenditure. Transport and logistics account to around 9-10% of GDP, 10-15% of production costs of individual companies and 12% of house-holds total final consumption. The People’s Republic of China in 2014, has invested about 8.5% national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to infrastructure with railway increased by 54% in 2015 and planning to increase container terminal by 132% by the year 2020.The African Development Group invested in major project of 240km of roads in the Southern Ethiopia which targets to grow the economy by unlocking the agricultural prospects of the region. There is direct and indirect relationship between transport and economic growth. The developed and developing countries in their studies to grow regional economies came to the same conclusion. The study concluded that the road infrastructure must be given attention and strong cooperation between the private and public sector should be forged for planning the positive contribution of freight movement activities to regional economic development. The study found a strong indication that freight movement activities have a direct relationship with the economic growth in the region. The production and consumption of goods or services contributes towards the economic growth of the region or country. Therefore, the efficient movement of freight adds value to goods or services and contributes to costs of such goods or services. The local economic strategies and studies should also take into account the contribution of transport in regional economy. The development of Regional Freight Transport Strategy is essential in planning for integration of transport, regional economy, regulation, transport infrastructure and institutional arrangement to enhance contribution of transport to economic growth.