Aid for emerging entrepreneurs 

Aid for emerging entrepreneurs 

Despite the small, medium, and micro enterprise industry being a big driver of employment and economic growth for South Africa, many of these businesses face various challenges during the start-up phase.

Oliver Naidoo, MD of South African National Accreditation System-accredited certification body JC Auditors (JCA), says early implementation of credible standards and certifications can help a business to accelerate the progress of overcoming some of these challenges.

“Certification to the Road Transport Management System (RTMS) promotes safety, compliance, and efficiency in a commercial fleet – regardless of the size. Along with ISO standards, these are proven mechanisms that enable a business to achieve safety, efficiency, and cost gains,” he says.

RTMS is an industry-led, government-supported, voluntary self-regulation scheme that encourages consignees, consignors, and road transport operators to implement a set of standards that demonstrates compliance with road traffic regulations and contributes to preserving road infrastructure, improving road safety, and increasing productivity. ISO standards are internationally agreed upon by experts. They manage various systems within a business, with the core goals of risk mitigation, continual improvement, and promoting business sustainability.

Immediate benefit

Annah Ngxeketo, MD of Mamoja Trading and Projects, says the decision to implement management systems from the outset delivered unforeseen results to the fledgling transport company.

Based in Marikana in the North West Province, Mamoja has signed some of South Africa’s biggest mining houses to its books since becoming RTMS and ISO 9001 accredited, within a year of starting its operations.

“As a business, we understood the need for standards and systems. The decision to align ourselves with international standards has, however, opened more doors than we ever envisioned. The JC Auditors integrated audit approach was most efficient and instead of two separate audits, we had a single audit, which made the process so much smoother,” says Ngxeketo. “It has proven to be critical for our growth, as it has placed us alongside some of the biggest transport companies in the country: we now ‘tick the same boxes’ as they do.”

The accreditation has delivered not only more work to the business, but also a host of other benefits such as reduced downtime, improved fuel consumption, and operating efficiency.

“Ever since becoming accredited, everyone in Mamoja has lived the systems. We have seen a real improvement in our efficiency and operating profits,” she continues. “Our truck downtime has decreased significantly, as have breakdowns. This goes hand-in-hand with maintenance, which is now far more proactive.”

Other benefits include a reduction in traffic violations and traffic incidents, with Ngxeketo noting that driver behaviour has also seen a major improvement: “The health of our drivers is far better, as we are now keeping track of the number of hours they are behind the wheel. RTMS has also made a difference in their confidence levels. Our drivers are proud to sport the RTMS yellow badge on the trucks they are driving. This, in turn, has resulted in improved driving.”

User-friendly process

According to Naidoo, JCA has been conducting RTMS certification audits since 2007 and has witnessed first-hand the performance improvements in companies such as Mamoja. “RTMS certification involves a two-stage audit process as per the ISO 17021 standard, which is the international standard applicable to all certification bodies. The audits are based on a sample population of trip data, vehicle history, driver information, telematics data, policies, and procedures,” he explains.

Compliance requires a company to demonstrate that it manages its transport operations with due consideration to road safety, compliance, and operational risks. The RTMS processes are developed so that procedures are compiled and consistently implemented to minimise the risks identified.

“A fundamental RTMS requirement is the need to incorporate a safe culture within the operation. This often requires a change in attitude, mindset, and driving behaviour,” says Naidoo. “This culture change is crucial considering South Africa’s unacceptably high crash rates, especially in recent times. It is thus very encouraging to see the emerging transporters actively embrace good governance in their businesses.”

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