Unifreight becomes the first transport operator in Zimbabwe to qualify and receive the esteemed RTMS, Road Transport Management System, certification. RTMS is a self-regulated accreditation scheme for heavy vehicle operators initiated and started in South Africa in 2007. It is focused on driver wellness, operator productivity, freight loading, safety and compliance and training. The RTMS standard ensures good transport operator practice, taking into consideration the safety of the driver, the load, the vehicle and all other road users.
“The Road Transport Management System is an industry-led, government-supported voluntary, self-regulation scheme that encourages consignors, consignees and road transport operators to implement a management system (a set of standards) that demonstrates compliance with the Road Regulations and contribute to preserving road infrastructure, improving road safety and increasing productivity.” RTMS Steering Committee, South Africa.
It is a total commitment by certified transport operators to observe and maintain a set of protocols created to ensure good operator practice. Good transport operator practice is more than just ensuring cargo is safe, loaded correctly and adheres to the road weight regulations. It involves a multitude of steps and procedures that must be followed and recorded in accordance with the relevant RTMS standard, SANS 1395.1:2019, which is recognised by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). These standards are put in place to ensure a high level of management for the operator’s vehicles, drivers, freight, and the operator’s depots. Each transporter needs to maintain and adhere to the SANS 1395 specific standard operating procedures which have been independently audited by a SANAS-accredited certification body. The transporter must also comply with the reporting requirements of the RTMS steering committee including the quarterly submission of key performance indicators.
It makes sense that Zimbabwe’s leading transporter should lead the way with this world-class certification.
Rob Kuipers, CEO, Unifreight Africa Limited; “We entered this project with a view to increasing productivity internally but more importantly improving our service offering to our customers by voluntarily holding ourselves accountable to a standard higher than the national transportation laws. RTMS ensures we are kept on track throughout our operation, and throughout our depot network. This certification has put in place improved standard operating procedures that help us maintain an exceptional operating level, but at the same time safeguards our drivers and the freight we carry, by making us continually aware and accountable for everything we do. This high level is maintained by the continuous independent auditing process.
As the first transporter in Zimbabwe to pass the RTMS standard, it is our sincere hope that others will join us including consignors and consignees and as an industry, we can improve the level at which Zimbabwean transporters operate across the board. I have to thank Kathy Bell, Dr Paul Nordengen and Patrick O Leary who got us started onthis journey”.
Since its implementation in South Africa in 2007, with initially only four transporters passing accreditation there are today 267 transport companies that have acquired RTMS certification, these include operators in Namibia (3), Botswana (1) and Eswatini (1).
Mira Zec, Projects Director, Unifreight Africa Limited; “The RTMS implementation project started in late 2016. We visited counterparts in South Africa and were impressed by the system and the operational improvements which also resulted in improvements in our service. We had to assess all our processes and procedures and amend and update where necessary. The training was a major part of the successful implementation and had to be carried out nationwide and across all departments. Without the support and buy-in from staff members, who are ultimately responsible for the record-keeping and adhering to the defined protocols, as well as excellent administration and training from RTMS Officer Norman Rufu, our RTMS certification would not have been accomplished. COVID-19 did delay the audit and progress, but we successfully passed our independent audit in August 2021. It has been a rewarding journey for the RTMS team and a huge achievement for the company as a whole”.
The RTMS accreditation and monitoring process is managed by SANAS (The South African National Accreditation System, the only national body responsible for carrying out accreditations in respect of conformity assessment, as mandated through the Accreditation for Conformity Assessment, Calibration and Good Laboratory Practice Act (Act 19 of 2006). The audits are conducted by a SANAS-accredited certification body, who are audited by SANAS annually. The quarterly RTMS performance reports are captured and monitored by the RTMS National Steering Committee. The RTMS National Steering Committee has representation from various industry stakeholders and some government departments in South Africa.
Within Zimbabwe, the road network is how industries distribute freight throughout the country. Unifreight is a major transport operator with a long history of delivering a first-class service to all industries through its premier brands, Swift Transport, Bulwark Transport and SkyNet Worldwide Express. Unifreight continues to ensure all cargo is safely and securely delivered to destinations nationwide. The organisation’s newly acquired RTMS certification demonstrates its commitment and dedication to maintaining a high international standard throughout its transport operations and a top-quality service to its customers.