Learn more about what goes into transporting hazardous goods

Three things you may not have known about what it takes to transport hazardous goods.

Unitrans Africa is a market leader in bulk tanker fuel transportation in Africa, investing in various petrochemical operations over a number of decades across Southern Africa. It is a highly specialized field governed by a host of stringent measures.

Here are a few of things you may not have known:

  1. Drivers require specialized training

According to this article by Arrive Alive, drivers require specialized training by an approved DOT training to transport hazardous goods. Part of this training requires drivers to learn how to manage and respond to a dangerous goods spill. In addition, drivers also need to undergo specialized training where loading/off-loading requires specific procedures to be followed i.e. Bulk fuel. Another interesting fact to note is that drivers have to be older than 25 years of age. Unitrans’ own training academy in Maputo features an 8-module program focussing on in-depth topics such as safety management, traffic regulations, and driving techniques, as well as an additional elective module specifically covering the transport of hazardous goods by road. Learn more about driver training here.

  1. Vehicles require special permits

There are dedicated vehicles for the various levels of hazardous chemicals. All these bulk carriers need to carry the necessary certification to carry Dangerous Goods. This certification must be displayed on the Operator Card for each vehicle and trailer. Regardless of the type of vehicle, certain accessories are mandatory such as prescribed safety signage, a danger warning diamond, and a municipal transport permit, among other things.

Interestingly, 2020 saw the launch of a Performance Based Standards or PBS system as well. First launched in 2007, the PBS system uses a modified version of the Australian road-train regulations, where heavy vehicles are designed on how they perform against a set of safety standards, rather than how they look.

Current road regulations are prescriptive about vehicle appearance and sizing, including height, width, and length. PBS, by contrast, seeks to design heavy-duty vehicles on how they are able to perform at certain levels. Taking that into account, truck-and-trailers need to pass a set of 16 safety-related performance tests, which are made up of a combination of low-speed and high-speed maneuvers, for example, emergency lane changes, turning radius, acceleration, and braking.

At the moment Unitrans has over 50 PBS-registered vehicles in its fleet including some in the petroleum sector. The PBS philosophy of designing the safest and most payload-efficient vehicles is carried through to all our projects, including those which do not even fall under the official Smart Truck Project. Unitrans Africa has the in-house PBS expertise and analysis software and is actively seeking to implement these efficient Smart Trucks at all of their operations throughout Africa. Learn more about PBS and its future, here.

  1. Storage is highly specialized

The USCS Petroleum and Warehousing division holds a market-leading position in the Petrochemicals sector as a respected provider of diversified logistics solutions throughout the hazardous goods value chain. Our services include transportation and warehousing solutions for a range of petroleum products including Fuel, JetA1, LPG, Cryogenics, HFO, Bitumen, Polymers, and lubricants. 

Our business model is driven by customer centricity and operational excellence underpinned by a relentless drive to be the safest logistics service provider thereby embracing all the SHEQ requirements and standards as governed by our customers and the petrochemicals industry.

Our partnership approach ensures that we create value-adding, long-term sustainable solutions for our customers and stakeholders.

1 In mining, overburden (also called waste or spoil) is the material that lies above an area that lends itself to economical exploitation, such as the rock, soil, and ecosystem that lies above a coal seam or ore body. Overburden is removed during surface mining, but is typically not contaminated with toxic components (Wikipedia)

2 A change in the salinity levels in soil can transform fertile land to unproductive land, which ultimately results in economic loss.