Trucking industry specialist Kevin van der Merwe has been appointed as the Executive Manager: Certification and Operations at the Road Freight Association (RFA). He takes over this role from Gavin Kelly, who was appointed as the Chief Executive in June 2019. Kevin will take up this new position from 01 September 2020.

Kevin is no stranger to the RFA: he has been consulting for the Association for nine years, focusing on abnormal loads and vehicle loading. In January 2019 he was appointed as the Acting Executive Manager – Certification and Operations while the CEO position was being filled, to assist Gavin in ensuring members received the attention they needed.

His new role deals with certification: ensuring members are able to meet the Core Code and objectives of the RFA – from meeting compulsory standards to elective certification of members for Road Traffic Management Systems – SANS 1395, Quality Management Systems – ISO 9001 (Integrated Freight Management Systems), Environmental Management systems ISO 14001 (Integrated Freight Management Systems), Occupational Health and Safety – ISO 45000 and RTSMS (Road Traffic Safety Management System – ISO 39001), as well as operations: assisting with day to day challenges that members face in operating a commercial transport business in terms of the NRTA (and related legislation).

Solving Problems for Members

Whilst Kevin will continue with his work on abnormal loads and vehicles – “I have the support of a very experienced team who are experts in key areas that serve the needs of our members”, he will now be involved in dangerous goods, green trucks, smart trucks, SMMEs, the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA), security matters, traffic prosecutions, technological developments, operating costs, removals, couriers and recovery vehicles – just to name a few. “My focus is to ensure that I engage with various role-players and stakeholders to solve and prevent problems that impact on the operational ability of members, as well as intervening in matters when irregularities are detected,” says Kevin.

Member and Industry Engagement Crucial

Interactions and engagements with RFA members are key in his new role: “The operational challenges and developments of members also form part of the responsibility of the position,” continues Kevin. “It enables me to engage with various role-players within the road freight and logistics industry: including members, government departments, suppliers, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), equipment developers, and academia. The position is responsible for driving engagement with our members through its various interest groups to ensure that the specific industry segments we represent have a conduit to effect the changes they want to see and ensure that the regulatory authorities do not lose sight of the fact that they must engage with industry on all matters that impact on it.”

Unlocking Membership Value

Kevin is excited at the opportunities his new position offers to unlock membership value: “It is great to be part of such a dynamic group of capable people who understand the importance of putting our members first. The RFA has a great reputation as an effective industry representative body that takes direction from its members and is committed to unlocking membership value. The “reset” of the Association under the new leadership and focus on the needs of members is critical to the continued success of the RFA”.

COVID-19 and Consultation Cutbacks

Commenting on the myriad of challenges currently facing road freight operators, Kevin says: ”The COVID-19 pandemic has provided regulatory authorities with an ideal excuse not to engage with industry on a regular basis on matters such as the high cube container height limit issues, and the true meaning and purpose of “consultation” when engaging with interested parties for the purposes of introducing new legislation. I am however positive that we will get matters back on track as soon as the restrictions on movement and industry are lifted.”

The RFA is not opposed to regulatory authorities, because their role is to support the industry and bring about a conducive operating environment. “As an Association we must endeavor to always put the needs of members first and continually find ways to unlock member value,” concludes Kevin.