In cargo transportation, an abnormal load is any load that exceeds the standard or ordinary legal size and/or weight limits for a specified portion of road, highway, freeway or other transport infrastructure, such as air freight or water freight. In South Africa, this is known to transportation companies as abnormal cargo. Examples of oversize/overweight loads include construction machines (cranes, front loaders, backhoes, etc.), pre-built homes, containers, construction elements (bridge beams, generators, windmill propellers, industrial equipment).
When transporting heavy haulage in South Africa, the legal dimensions and weights vary between regions within the country. A vehicle which exceeds the legal dimensions usually requires a special permit which requires extra fees to be paid in order for the oversize/overweight vehicle to legally travel on the roadways. The permit usually specifies a route the load must follow as well as the dates and times during which the load may travel.
Abnormal load companies in South Africa understand that when a load cannot be dismantled into units that can be transported without exceeding the limitations in terms of the dimensions and/or mass, it is classified as an abnormal load. Another definition can be summarized as following: an abnormal load is one which cannot be divided into two or more loads for transporting (on roads).
The Department of Transport has extensive rules governing the type of loads that may be moved on our national road network, and these are laid out in the schedule specifying different regulations. Abnormal load transportation companies in South Africa are aware of these regulations and the following are considered when transporting any significantly large load:
- Warning Indications – the size and type of the abnormal load will influence the warning signage that is needed. For example, flags to identify extremities, flashing lights to increase visibility and speed restriction boards to communicate the speed the vehicle is limited to drive at.
- Escorts – dependent on the trip and load, either an accompanying vehicle carrying engineers or a traffic officer escort is necessary for abnormal loads. Such escorts would be required to maintain the travelling speed of the load vehicle, and be suitably marked. This is to ensure that abnormal load is transported correctly.
- Permits – the appropriate permit is dictated by both the geography through which the load will move and the type of freight. The driver is required to have the correct permit available at all times. Permits can become exceptionally complicated when a load is moving across borders as different countries have different requirements. However, abnormal transport companies in South Africa will ensure that all the permits are granted before transportation begins.
- Insurance – before any permit is granted, the load transporter is required to produce proof that adequate insurance cover is in place for the abnormal load. Cover is typically required to encompass accidental damage to vehicles, 3rd parties and any private or public property, among others.
- Routes and clearances – it is the responsibility of the transporter to show that the proposed route is suitable for the abnormal load. To this aim, the carrier may be required to, at their own cost, prove that infrastructure, such as bridges, is capable of bearing the intended load.
- Infrastructure consideration and notification – within South Africa, it is necessary to notify, and obtain permission from Eskom and Telkom for any loads that may impact overhead cabling. These limitations are based on height restriction of 5.8 m (Eskom) and 5.5 m (Telkom) in height respectively. Should an abnormal load surpass these height limitations, the respective organisations will provide escorts to travel with the abnormal load to lift the overhead lines where necessary.
- Speed limit restrictions – the law prescribes the maximum speed at which an abnormal load can travel. The speed limitations are to ensure the safe transportation of the load, however slow-moving vehicles do congest roads. Once the impact of a load on the traffic patterns has been established, it is useful to notify local communities regarding the times that the vehicle will travel through their areas. Further to this, the speed limitation impacts the transit time of the abnormal load.
- Embargo’s – dependent on the size and type of load, as well as speed restrictions, the vehicle will be unable to travel on the roads at certain times. Night time travel is usually not allowed without the express permission of the authorities and is usually limited to travel under specific conditions such as within a well-lit metropolitan area. There is generally an embargo on abnormal load transportation on weekends, public holidays and special events. Each province has its own set of embargo times, which can further complicate the transportation of such loads across provincial boundaries.
Jacobs Transport was founded in 1999 and has multiple years of unrivaled industry experience and knowledge. We are the specialists in abnormal load transportation in South Africa and have taken on the biggest and most outrageous types of projects, with a 100% success rate. Be sure to contact Jacobs Transport today for all of your cargo and machine hauling requirements!