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What are the different modes of freight transport in South Africa?

Freight transport is the backbone of almost all economic activities based on the provision of physical goods. Supplies of retail goods, agricultural products, and raw material for manufacturing are all depending on freight transport.
. In South Africa and globally, the main modes of freight transport are maritime, rail, road, and air, with pipeline freight transport forming a growing part of global gas and petrochemical freight worldwide. The choice a customer makes regarding the freight transport mode that works best for their particular logistics needs depends on several factors.
. These include the availability of a particular freight mode, its cost and fuel efficiency, the amount of time at hand, the potential of damage to the goods being transported, and the safety of the goods. All of these factors interlink, and often several different modes of freight are used to achieve the optimum affordable logistics mix.
Maritime freight transport
Globally, 90 percent of all freight transport is marine, which has the great advantage of being relatively affordable and well-suited for the transport of oversized or heavy bulk cargo, as well as being a pivotal element of import/export markets.
Marine transport has historically been paired with rail transport, especially in the metal, mining and petrochemical agencies. A good example of this is Port of Richards Bay, which is a major hub for coal and aluminum export. Although still an important player, maritime freight transport forms only 13 percent of the logistics market in South Africa.
Rail transport
In the African market, the landlocked nature of many trading partners means that road and rail transport are of vital importance. Approximately 10 percent of all logistics business in South Africa is done by rail. It is the preferred method of transport for certain commodities, such as sugar, cement, timber, grain, coal and zinc, from production sites to transport and distribution hubs in South Africa. Because of significant maintenance and technology shortfalls, however, many African countries have only limited rail networks.
Fortunately, containerization technology has improved the ability of road, rail and maritime transport to interlink, smoothing out the logistics of multimodal supply chains for products involved in retail and heavy industry alike.
Road transport
Competition between road freight and rail transport exists in the South African market, but road transport, specifically trucking, has proven to be competitively priced, while offering better flexibility than rail in terms of transit time and delivery location, as well as negotiable cargo sizes. Road freight options are incredibly customizable: this type of freight can service industrial, commercial and retail needs in rural and urban areas, inland and on the coast, making it by far the most flexible logistics option.
It is therefore unsurprising that road freight industry in South Africa and Africa is one of the best transport options available and is growing. It can easily extend cross-border, limited only by customs requirements, vehicle restrictions, and infrastructural challenges. It is estimated by the Department of Transport and Industry that the number of trucks operating in South Africa will reach one million by 2050, with a similar number of cross-border movements occurring.
Air freight
Air transportation services form a fairly small percentage of all freight transport globally, but is a time-efficient— expensive—option for cargoes that require short transit time with as little storage as possible. Air transport is extensively used to fulfil just-in-time inventory replenishment, as is used in automotive manufacture, pharmaceutical supply, and food and flower retail.
South African air transport forms only a very small part of the logistics inventory, less than one percent. However, it is important in the transport of high-value, low-density goods, and demand may grow locally as well as globally as the demand for high-value goods grows.
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