Transportation Owners and Drivers critical to reaching customers in South Africa and across the border, learn from social unrest and economic crisis
South Africa, 21 October 2021 – As South Africa grapples with the devastation of the pandemic and destructive protests, transport operators must seek ways to not only survive the impact of these adverse conditions but grow beyond them. But they will need help to do so.
As the country marks National Transport Month, Logistics Manager at Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), Ndanganeni Adjei reflects on the need for companies and government to demonstrate their commitment to the sector by bolstering investments into the country’s logistics network, while ensuring the safety and sustainability of workers.
“When violent protests erupt, it is usually transport operators and truck drivers who face the brunt of the ire of mobs in the streets,” says Adjei. “During the wake of violent social unrest that erupted in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, we were immensely affected in both provinces, as well as in the Eastern Cape, with our deliveries to our customers, as well our supply of raw materials, being delayed.”
“We can never be prepared enough for such events, and the best you can do is to mitigate the impact through increased vigilance and more thorough security measures. At the end of the day, our employees’ lives come first, and we need to work as a collective within the industry to ensure we play our role in positively contributing to the growth of our economy while minimising risk,” he adds.
To adapt and survive in the current environment, characterised by economic stagnation and an increase in volatility in communities, CCBSA has made a comprehensive realignment of its Owner Driver programme over the past year. This has already led to greater efficiencies, as well as profitability for operators who have achieved higher productivity through more relevant market targeting.
“Our Owner Drivers are extremely important to our route to market strategy. They are the ones who have endured some of the greatest pressure throughout the pandemic, as they are essential service workers who were on the ground engaging customers directly, as they are unable to work remotely,” says Adjei. “Our Owner Driver Scheme has been a vital part of our ability to serve our South African and cross-border channels.”
“The challenges of the past year have affected these transport operators directly, as our volumes took a major knock due to lockdowns, but we are confident that we are on a strong path of recovery and look forward to supporting operators in getting their businesses to become sustainable and meet their full potential,” says Adjei.
The Owner Driver Scheme was established in 1993 as a central part of the Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI) distribution channel. This, coupled with South Africa’s development mandate, would provide previously disadvantage groups the economic opportunity to be a part of the supply chain of a major industrial operation.
Adjei added existing owner driver fleet utilisation has now stabilised at just over 80%, with the objective to ramp it up sustainably to 100% to ensure their sustainability.
More opportunities for owner-drivers
With threats to volumes being a persistent concern for owner drivers, CCBSA has presented a plan to provide opportunities for owner drivers to expand beyond just delivering packaged beverages, but to begin sourcing contracts with raw material suppliers, delivering these inputs during periods of low demand for finished product.
“Despite adverse market conditions, we encouraged by the resilience of our people and our partners to drive growth and improve overall performance,” says Adjei, “Where we see gaps, we will take the opportunity to directly engage operators and develop meaningful interventions to ensure performance improvements We want to ensure that our logistics operators are motivated and inspired to embark on this exciting journey with us in a safe and rewarding way,” he says.
Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is a proudly South African company which began operating as a legal entity in July 2016, after the merger of six non-alcoholic ready to drink bottling operations. We are level 1 B-BBEE empowered company. We employ over 7000 people at 13 manufacturing facilities across the country. As a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) and a bottler for The Coca-Cola Company, our vision is to refresh Africa every day and make our continent a better place for all. We manufacture and distribute Coca-Cola beverages that make life’s everyday moments more enjoyable, while doing business the right way. The result is shared opportunity for our customers, our employees, our communities, and our shareholders. We conduct our business ethically, transparently, and conscientiously. We espouse an inclusive business culture to reflect our African identity. We accelerate sustainable, profitable revenue growth across all categories and offer an innovative portfolio of products that respond to customer needs and consumer preferences. Profitability is important, but not at any cost. People matter. Our planet matters. We do business the right way by following our values and partnering for solutions that benefit us all.