Provincial road condition and round wood timber transport in South Africa
The context of the study is the concern over declining provincial road conditions due to insufficient government funding for road maintenance. The roads are used by a wide variety of commercial and private interests that contribute a broad range of axle loads. There is no information available on the use of these roads, nor on their condition from forest companies and other users. A nation-wide survey, in the form of a questionnaire, was subsequently conducted to determine the condition and length of each segment of provincial road in use by forest companies, as well as the volume of wood transported over them. In addition, an attempt was made to gather data on other road users over each section of road surveyed. The questionnaire results show that there is great degree of variation in the condition of provincial roads, with 50% of them being serviceable over only 50% of their total lengths. There is a 20% reduction in the road condition during wet periods, which would indicate poor drainage and/or use of poor quality road building materials. The literature reviewed suggested that maintaining or rebuilding these roads could result in a significant reduction in total transport costs. Round wood transport contributes the majority of the axle loading to these roads, and forest companies therefore need to take responsibility for damage caused to them, as well as their maintenance. Of the total length of provincial roads surveyed, 38% is used by two or more forest companies, representing 47% of the total volume hauled. As a result, road maintenance collaboration between companies is needed.