Africa’s largest truck stop

 

 

Long-distance truck drivers operate in a tiring, often high-pressured environment, driving expensive equipment and carrying valuable loads for long hours. It is essential that they are able to rest in secure circumstances, preferably within a facility that caters for all their needs such as secure parking, fuel, food and groceries, clean ablutions, vehicle maintenance, tyre repairs, and even health services.

Facilities geared to the needs of truck drivers contribute to drivers’ health and safety, and to the safety of other road users. This in turn helps to ensure that the transport sector continues to contribute positively to the country’s economy.

Highway Junction Truck Stop, located near Harrismith, has been designed with the safety and security of drivers and their trucks in mind.

Conscious choice

This truck stop has been developed specifically for the logistics and heavy transport sector with a focus on quality, safety, security and cleanliness. It is not only Africa’s largest truck stop but also its busiest, with the majority of truck drivers passing through the N3 corridor making it their preferred stopover.

The development of more truck stops at convenient locations that offer good security and cater to drivers’ needs are of critical importance to the country and the freight and logistics industry.

“Good quality truck stops at key points will go a long way to making our roads safer and will exponentially improve the work environment of truck drivers,” states TSRF’s principal officer, Joe Letswalo. “We are committed to setting the bar high when catering for our members and the broader transport sector.”

The Highway Junction Truck Stop is setting the tone for future developments in the industry. It operates every day of the year for 24-hours a day and is always a hive of activity, especially when night falls. Around 1 500 trucks pass through this facility daily.

“Just as the transport industry is forever moving, we too never stop,” emphasises Letswalo.

On entering the premises, one is immediately aware that the Highway Junction is not your average truck stop — it is a world-class facility in which trucks park on a reinforced concrete surface, with no chance of becoming stuck in mud.

The stop offers a host of additional services, from banking to vehicle maintenance and resting amenities to make the lives of truckers easier.

“I believe we are the leaders in the industry in terms of looking after the interests of truck drivers. Our truckers make a tremendous contribution to the economy of South Africa, but remain largely unappreciated. With the creation of our world-class facilities, and extending this model, we aim to redress this imbalance — to give our trucking industry the facilities, recognition and value they rightly deserve,” says Letswalo.

It is heartening to note that responsible transport operators are consciously making the choice to utilise these facilities.

The Harrismith Highway Junction is the first in Africa, and possibly the only truck stop in the world where fuels from a number of different brands are offered under their own forecourts. This addresses the needs of employers that have long-term relationships with specific petroleum companies. The three primary brands are BP, Total and Engen.

The Highway Junction and Truck Park offers world class facilities, operating around the clock. Over and above the safe and secure hard parking and two-hour workshops, it has ABSA, Capitec and FNB ATMs and an OK Express. There are clean showers and ablutions, overnight or long-term driver rooms and a Trucking Wellness Clinic. Driver wellness is key to reducing fatalities and crashes on the roads and this clinic has proper doctors’ examination rooms to conduct full driver medicals, blood pressure tests, eye testing, HIV testing, drug abuse, driver fatigue and more. Fresh and homemade food is available, along with a driver clubhouse, TVs, an entertainment centre and a laundromat. In October this year, it hosted its first annual driver open day.

Membership investment horizons

The TSRF’s investment goal is to enhance returns to members on a sustainable basis and to promote transformation in South Africa. It provides clear targets and ensures that its investments are aligned to members’ interests.

It has assets under management of around R8-billion, which is attributable to both investment performance and its membership growth. These assets are carefully invested in compliance with the Fund’s investment policy statement and Regulation 28 of the Pension Fund Act.

The Fund refined its Investment Policy Statement (IPS) and adopted a life-stage strategy in preference to the previous single investment strategy portfolio, which did not cater for members close to retirement, as they risked losing accumulated gains. The life-stage strategy aims to ensure that the accumulated “saving pots” of members close to retirement are not adversely affected should unforeseen events trigger extreme market volatility.

The fund adopted a default investment risk reduction programme — a three-life-stage model — which caters for all members’ interests.

The life-stages have their own respective benchmarks: a Growth Portfolio, which aims to achieve a return of CPI + 4.5% over a three-year rolling period; a Moderate Portfolio, that targets CPI + 3.25%; and a Conservative Portfolio that aims to achieve CPI + 1%.

Modelling

This Life Stage Model allows the fund to reduce market risk for members as they approach normal retirement age, and aims to protect the members’ accumulated fund credit as they approach retirement. The risk is managed by gradually reducing the risk-seeking, more conservative asset exposure as members draw closer to the age of 65.

The Fund uses an asset liability modelling exercise, reviewed at least every two years, as input in the development of its investment strategy. The latest asset liability modelling report indicates the demographic of the fund beneficiaries, investment horizons of the members of the fund, required liquidity and maturity of the Fund — whether the Fund has stable, growing or declining membership, the various categories or accounts of liabilities, and the expected return and risk of various asset class categories available for the fund to invest in.

Asset managers are appointed by the board of trustees in order to exercise discretion in investing the fund’s assets, which include decisions to buy, hold and sell securities in amounts reflective of the asset manager’s investment views. Asset managers’ discretion is defined and clarified within the IPS objectives, guidelines and mandate. The performance objective is accomplished by maximising the portfolio’s active risk-adjusted return to enhance the total return.

Each portfolio that forms part of the fund’s investment strategy is assigned a benchmark, which provides the tool to measure performance. 

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