Ngululu Bulk Carriers has acquired 80 new trucks from Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), in a deal worth R160-million. The deal is financed by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, and has seen MBSA’s TruckStore handle its first “big trade-in”at 79 units, says TruckStore South Africa head Oliver Marte. The second-hand commercial vehicle facility, in Centurion, which opened its doors last year, buys and sells all brands, sizes and configurations of vans, trucks, buses and trailers, in an effort to create additional business for MBSA commercial vehicles.
Ngululu Bulk Carriers COO Louis Tolmay says 51 of the 80 new trucks will replace units in the company’s current 262-strong fleet, while the 29 new, larger horsepower trucks will be employed in abnormal load conditions in the Steelpoort Valley, ferrying chrome ore. “The payload is 35.5 t at the moment and we want to increase this to between 45 and 47 t,” says Tolmay. Ngululu Bulk Carriers was previously known as Lukas Potgieter Vervoer. Ngululu Holdings and its 79 shareholders bought 10% of the business in 2002 – then operating 74 trucks – in a black economic-empowerment deal, increasing the stake to 26% over time, and then finally to 51% in 2009. The company employs around 500 people. Ngululu Holdings executive chairperson Chris Luvhani says Ngululu Bulk Carriers is well known on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex, where “it dominates” the chrome transport sector. However, the transport operator is now looking to diversify from its 100%-tipper business into other sectors, such as fast-moving consumers goods, as well as beyond South Africa into the Southern African region.
Luvhani says regions such as northern Mozambique and Zambia are areas where Ngululu Bulk Carriers is “eyeing expansion opportunities”. Ports such as Beira, Dar es Salaam, Mombassa and Walvis Bay are also potential business nodes, he adds, as mining, the sector Nugululu is most familiar with, is primarily an export business. He emphasises, however, that the operator’s current South African client portfolio will remain its single most important business focus. As for the labour strife the South African mining sector faced in 2012, Luvhani says “the challenges in mining are challenges every businessman must face. We must always keep the macroeconomic picture in mind”. “We are coping,” he adds.