IT'S ONLY 140 ROAD MILES TO ALGIERS
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
Strasbourg converge on the Paris terminal.
At 7.20 pm on the Tuesday the train leaves Paris and arrives at Marseilles 12 hours later on Wednesday morning. Within two hours the SGH semi-trailer is loaded on to the ferry which sails for Algiers only 10 hours distant. From arrival in Algiers on the Wednesday evening it takes 24 hours to clear customs and one hour after customs clearance the machinery is being off-loaded at the factory 15 miles away.
Because of the infrequency of the cross-Mediterranean ferry the return trip from London takes 15 days whereas the actual run from London to Algiers takes only three days and this includes terminal delays.
The trailers travel under TIR carnet as far as Marseilles and then are covered by normal shipping documentation to Algiers. Algeria has not yet signed the TIR agreement.
The entire movement of the semi-trailer from London to Algiers is controlled by a seven-part telex. Part I goes to British Railways at Dover confirming the ferry booking, part 2 to ALA, the SGH agent at Dunkirk, advising that company to release the trailer to Novatrans, and the third part to Novat at Dunkirk, booking the rail passage to Marseilles. ALA ensures that the semi-trailer is loaded and from there on movement to Marseilles is straightforward.
The next two telex messages are sent to Marseilles. One goes to Transport Mixtes advising them of the estimated time of arrival of the train and booking a tractive unit to pick up the trailer for delivery to the ferry. The other telex message is sent to Trans Med, the ferry company, confirming the ferry booking.
The final two parts of the telex are sent to Algiers: one to Canan, the SGH agent in Algiers who arranges road transport after customs clearance, and the final part to the client advising the estimated time of arrival.
Transport in Algeria is State-owned and the machinery is being moved into a State-owned factory.
All of these telex messages are sent from the SGH London office at the same time so that the line of communication is formed and completed simultaneously.
The cost Before the first trailer load left the UK Mr Brian Harmshaw, the company's groupage manager, and Miss Susan Shields, an Arabic speaking secretary, visited Algiers with a view to clearing any possible customs delays. The first obstacle they met was an Algerian Government demand for £1800, which was the cost of importing a trailer for 14 days. Lengthy and confused discussion followed but the outcome is that the company is allowed to import a trailer for a three-day period without paying a deposit. On the expiry of this duty-free time the responsibility for the trailer falls on the Algerian customer who pays any tax which falls due, but as the customer is a State department it merely becomes a book entry.
Quotes SGH quotes £6 per 100 kilos for consignments of more than 7500 kilos and the minimum consignment they will accept is 200 kilos which would cost about £16.
SGH is aiming at a fleet of 24 Super Kangaroo semi-trailers by December of. this year which will be exactly two years after the formation of the company. It has standardized on Merriworth trailers.
During this month and next a trade fair is being held in Algeria and a number of British exporters have used SGH semi-trailers rather than send their goods as general cargo by the long sea route. In addition to the time-saving factor, SGH has been able to offer the additional incentive of having the goods customs cleared at the trade fair rather than at the Algerian customs house.
The company sells its service to shipping and forwarding agents and exporters but it cannot state with any accuracy how the market will develop, and against the day when Algeria runs out of sterling SGH is looking at other Middle Eastern countries for traffic. During its period of operation in the Middle East using the Novatrans service the company has not lost one semi-trailer nor has it missed a ferry. Occasionally. the semi-trailer comes back to the South of France empty and it is loaded there or dispatched by rail to northern Italy. To move an empty semi-trailer. from Algeria to Milan costs around £60. There it is loaded with fruit and within 24 hours it is discharging in London.
Benson and Alan Greenberg have been learning fast in the field of international road transport. They and three members of their staff spend much of their time in Europe planning movements down to the last detail. Mr Alan Greenberg does not believe in the philosophy of learning by one's mistakes. He made the point when he said that a new company such as his, with such a heavy capital commitment, could not afford to make mistakes.