October is Transport Month and a reminder that a well-developed and properly maintained transport infrastructure is critical for economic sustainability and growth in South Africa. This year’s theme – Transport, the Heartbeat of Economic Growth and Social Development – underscores this reality.

Innovative Staffing Solutions Managing Director, Arnoux Maré, says transport is a key contributor to the country’s GDP. “The sector is an important driver for development and job creation in the country. Notably, transport GDP reached an all-time high of just over R 27.1 million in the first quarter of 2018.”

Maré is however concerned about October’s fuel increase and its impact on the transport industry and job creation in this particular sector. The department of energy has attributed the increase to the weakening rand exchange rate, the increased prices of crude oil and the import prices of petroleum. “The fuel increase is the biggest in the country’s history and could potentially have catastrophic implications as it will extract a further R2.5-billion a month in transport costs from an economy that is already on the ropes.”

Since starting his business seven years ago, Maré has grown the outsourcing company’s driver complement from a handful of drivers in 2011 to more than 5,500 drivers in 2018. “We outsource drivers to clients in various industries, which means we need to make sure they are competent, well-trained and happy to be working for us.”

This year, Innovative Staffing Solutions invested in two trucks dedicated for truck driver training. “We couldn’t expect our clients to relinquish their trucks for training purposes, so we decided to buy two trucks – a Renault Kerax and Volvo – to allow us to train truck drivers on a daily basis.”

This year, more than 2,000 drivers have undergone training. “Advanced truck driver training is conducted by certified trainers and each driver undergoes three to four hours of training.  The trainers spend one-on-one time with drivers to test their driving skills and brush up on their road regulation knowledge,” says Maré.

He points out that truck drivers have an enormous responsibility. “Not only are they responsible for driving heavy, expensive vehicles that can cause extensive damage if they crash, they are also responsible for carrying valuable loads from one destination to the next. So, it is imperative that they are highly competent and display a high degree of reliability and accountability.”

With more companies beginning to realise the benefits of outsourcing their non-core functions, Maré expects his driver complement to grow significantly over the next few months. “We believe we are making a significant contribution to the transport industry by creating thousands of jobs and making sure our drivers are well trained and fully supported.”

This support includes making sure they are getting competitive salaries and other benefits. “Earlier this year, we negotiated an excellent deal for our drivers with one of the major medical aid players in the country. This was a ground-breaking move, because historically drivers have either not had medical aid or been on below-par medical aid packages,” adds Maré.

Innovative Staffing Solutions also manages drivers schedules carefully to reduce driver fatigue and has advance fleet technology monitoring systems in place to reduce the chance of accidents and ensure drivers and their cargo get to their destinations in time.

Maré says Transport Month, which was initiated in 2005 at the Transport Lekotla, is an important reminder for South African citizens of the important role transport plays in their lives. “Our transport infrastructure is like the body’s circulatory system – it feeds all aspects of the economy and without it we would not be able to grow and thrive.”