From its head office in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Super Star Forwarders (SSF), has been an ever present within the transportation sector since its establishment in 1991. Initially a small general cargo haulage business, the company has grown considerably in the 22 years since, to the point where it is today recognised as being a major transport logistics solution provider and among the leading hauliers of containers, equipment, fuel and general cargo in the East, Central and Southern Africa regions.
One of the things that sets SSF apart as being leaders in their field is the sheer size of their fleet of trucks that operate primarily within Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and DRC, and are at the heart of the company’s ability to provide customised transport solutions to a host of multi-national companies including Total, Puma Energy and Trafigura.
“While our fleet is already large in size,” explains Pradeep Kumaar, head of the commercial division and sales, “it continues to grow, with new additions in the coming weeks set to take it in excess of 180 vehicles.”
The fact of the matter, as Kumaar goes on to highlight, is that as market segments throughout the region continue to grow so too does the demands for accomplished, proven vehicle operators. “The market at present is, for a lack of a better word, somewhat unorganised. The increase in demand for vehicles and transport providers has led to an influx of older trucks entering the market. While these companies are attracting some business, the larger corporate organisations are unable to work with them because they lack the required operational and safety standards. That is where we come in, offering the type of service and quality assurances that corporate clients demand.”
Today, SSF’s fleet provides transport services of transit goods in a number of Tanzania’s landlocked neighbouring countries including Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC. This presence means the company has been witness to those core drivers that have promoted increased business opportunities.
“Fuel, be it oil or gas, and the demand for it is arguably the biggest motivator of growth in this part of the world at present,” Kumaar states. “Meanwhile, if you look at particular countries, Zambia and DRC for example, the growth in mining has contributed significantly to the rise in demand for transportation and logistics services. Due to its port facilities, Tanzania is very much an export gateway for a number of African countries and as market sectors such as mining grows in our landlocked neighbours we are seeing a great deal of demand for services that can help take a company’s products away to the port in order to be shipped out to overseas customers.”
One of the more recent developments to occur within the company is its move to expand its presence in Zambia. “Our plans for Zambia,” Kumaar says, “represent the next phase of our aim to grow throughout Central Africa. For its part, Zambia knows that in order to grow in needs to be able to export to places like Mozambique and South Africa, and recognises that the best way to do so is through Tanzania. As copper production levels and copper values continue to increase so too does the importance of doing business with and in Zambia. This presents an excellent business opportunity on which we wish to capitalise on.”
In recent times SSF has gradually built itself a reputation for being an industry pioneer. From its very first few years in existence the company had Global Positioning System technology placed within all of its vehicles, something that was upgraded in 2005 when it embarked on a programme of installing on-board computers into its trucks.
“These on-board computers,” Kumaar enthuses, “provide both ourselves and our clients with all manner of safety and efficiency reports, and help create a greater degree of transparency, which allows our customers to see just how it is we handle their goods.”
SSF has made considerable efforts to establish responsible standards throughout its operations. These include the scheduling of allocated 30 minute breaks for all drivers who have been on the road for four hours in order to combat the effects of fatigue. The company also has in place a maximum driver speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour. Both of these important measures can be monitored by its on-board computers, meaning that any violation of the rules can be dealt with in a timely manner.
SSF has been responsible for introducing some of the industry’s most innovative and important technical solutions to the African market. The most recent being the Alcolock system, an ergonomically designed breathalyser that must be breathed into prior to a driver starting the engine of a vehicle. Should an alcohol level over an agreed amount be detected the vehicle will not start. While such devices are widely available in Europe they are still relatively rare in Africa, so it is testament to SSF that it is one of the first companies to bring them to market.
In conjunction to its embracing of technology and innovation, SSF also delivers comprehensive in-house training to all of its employees, particularly its drivers, mechanics and engineers. This training is provided by a department headed up by a Swedish expert who has been certified by APTH France, an institute endorsed by a consortium of fuel companies including Total, BP and Shell.
As SSF continues to pursue its own expansion targets, Kumaar is clear what the company has to do to retain its leading position within its field. “It is important for us to maintain the highest possible level of service, while at the same time embracing new technologies and innovations. The market around us continues to change on an almost daily basis, yet I am sure that what we have achieved over the years as a business has put us in the best position to grow alongside it.”
Written by Will Daynes, research by Paul Bradley