When is big abnormal, and what should you be doing about it?

Posted by Barloworld Logistics on 02 Nov 2017 2:00:00 PM

How big is abnormal

A transport load is abnormal when it is an indivisible object that, either due to its size or weight, cannot be moved on a vehicle without exceeding the limitations as described by the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2000. Such freight may only be transported under permit, using a vehicle appropriate to the load. The Department of Transport has extensive rules governing the type of loads that may be moved on our national road network, and these are laid out in the schedule specifying different regulations. Not only does the transportation of oversized cargo require special permits, but it also requires specialised knowledge and skill to transport such freight safely and successfully.Typically some, if not all, of the following need to be considered when transporting any significantly large load:

  1. Warning signs – the size and type of load dictates the warning signage needed. For example, flags to identify extremities, flashing lights to increase visibility and speed restriction boards to communicate the speed the vehicle is limited to
  2. Escorts – dependant on the trip and load, either an accompanying vehicle carrying for example engineers or indeed a traffic officer escort is necessary for abnormal loads. Such escorts would be required to maintain the travelling speed of the load vehicle, and be suitably marked.
  3. Permits – the appropriate permit is dictated by both the geography through which the load will move and the type of freight. The driver is required to have the correct permit available at all times. Permits can become exceptionally complicated when a load is moving across borders as different countries have different requirements.  
  4. Insurance – before any permit is granted, the load transporter is required to produce proof that adequate insurance cover is in place for the load. Cover is typically required to encompass accidental damage to vehicles, 3rd parties and any private or public property, amongst others.
  5. Routes and clearances – it is the responsibility of the transporter to show that the proposed route is suitable for the abnormal load. To this aim, the carrier may be required to, at their own cost, prove that infrastructure, such as bridges, is capable of bearing the intended load.
  6. Infrastructure consideration and notification – within South Africa, it is necessary to notify, and obtain permission from Eskom and Telkom for any loads that may impact overhead cabling. These limitations are based on height restriction of 5.8 m (Eskom) and 5.5 m (Telkom) in height respectively. Should a load surpass these height limitations, the respective organisations will provide escorts to travel with the abnormal load to lift the overhead lines where necessary.
  7. Speed limit restrictions – the law prescribes the maximum speed at which an abnormal load can travel. The speed limitations are to ensure the safe transportation of the load, however slow-moving vehicles do congest roads. Once the impact of a load on the traffic patterns has been established, it is useful to notify local communities regarding the times that the vehicle will travel through their areas. Further to this, the speed limitation impacts the transit time of the load.
  8. Embargo’s – dependent on the size and type of load, as well as speed restrictions, the vehicle will be unable to travel on the roads at certain times. Night time travel is usually not allowed without the express permission of the authorities and is usually limited to travel under specific conditions such as within a well-lit metropolitan area. There is generally an embargo on abnormal load transportation on weekends, public holidays and special events. Each province has its own set of embargo times, which can further complicate the transportation of such loads across provincial boundaries.

Further detail regarding the above, as well as an extensive list of other requirements, are provided in the Abnormal load's Administrative Guidelines.

As Africa’s premier heavy haulage company, Manline Mega continually pushes the boundaries of bulk transportation to deliver some of the largest and heaviest loads ever seen in Southern Africa. Combining the latest technology with the most experienced team means we offer flexible, optimised and reliable transport solutions for any load, whatever the size! With a fleet of abnormal vehicles, equipped with advanced safety equipment and following the strictest protocols, Manline Mega is the first abnormal haulier to achieve Road Transport Management System (RTMS) accreditation in South Africa. Regardless of the shape and size of your load, we can deliver, ensuring your peace of mind, and enabling your business.

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