Timber 24, a subsidiary of Barloworld Transport, has joined forces with a community-owned business in a specialised timber transport contract with Merensky Timber’s Singisi Forest Products (SFP) in East Griqualand and southern KwaZulu-Natal.
The five-year contract secured by the new business, known as Timber24 Zange, involves providing transport capacity of up to 38 000 tons of timber per month from Singisi Forest Products plantations in East Griqualand and Bulwer to the Singisi and Weza sawmills.
Part of this contract involves hauling 18.5-metre sawlogs in six specially-designed PBS vehicle/trailers to the Weza mill. This concept is understood to be a first in South Africa. The specialised long-length trailers have been developed in a collaboration between Timber24 and New Zealand-based Patchell Industries, and were built by Afrit.
The truck carries its own trailer on the return journey from mill to plantation, thus reducing maintenance and tyre wear and tear. It also means the truck requires less space to turn around and position itself for loading at roadside.
According to Weza Plantation Manager Marius Jonker, the harvesting system at Weza has been designed to accommodate the logistics of loading tree lengths at roadside. The logs are scanned and cross-cut at the sawmill. This operation is more accurate and cost effective than roadside processing.
Timber24 Zange is owned by Timber24 (70%) and Zange Industries (30%). Zange Industries is the commercial arm of the Singilanga Directorate Trust (SDT), which incorporates the Langeni Community Trust and Ntsingisi Community Trust. The SDT is also a shareholder in SFP.
There are 162 communities that are beneficiaries of the Singilanga Directorate Trust. These communities are located adjacent to Singisi Forest Products’ forestry and sawmilling operations in the Eastern Cape and southern KZN.
SFP has been involved in various development projects with these communities, and maintains a good working relationship. Hence when Timber24’s previous timber transport contract came to an end, SFP management requested that the transport company join forces with the community for the purposes of securing a new, five-year contract.
The land on which SFP grows trees is leased from government, but will in future be leased from communities, and part of its mandate involves engaging with local communities. Its commitment to community development includes seeking ways for the SFP communities to derive additional benefits from the forestry operations.
The bulk of SFP employees, as well as those of Timber24 Zange, are drawn from local communities.