• Unifreight deployed 50 additional FAW 380FT Truck Tractors
  • The company posted a profit of ZWL192 billion in 2023
  • This is despite high fuel prices and steep vehicle registration fees

Harare- In a strategic move to strengthen its transport logistics operations, Unifreight Africa Limited has deployed an additional 50 FAW 380FT Truck Tractors with Afrit Tautliner Trailers into the local and cross-border market during the full year 2023. This significant investment has paid off, with the company posting a profit of ZWL192 billion in 2023.

The FAW 380FT Truck Tractors are heavy-duty truck tractor units produced by the Chinese commercial vehicle manufacturer, FAW (First Automotive Works). The "380FT" model designation likely refers to the engine or power output capabilities of these trucks.

Complementing the FAW truck tractors are the Afrit Tautliner Trailers. Afrit is a South African trailer manufacturer that produces a variety of trailer types, including the tautliner design. Tautliner trailers feature a curtain-sided body, allowing for easy loading and unloading of cargo, making them well-suited for Unifreight's transport logistics operations.

The group's improved financial performance was further attributed to the company's operating margins which saw a remarkable increase, rising from 0% in 2021 to 2.56% in 2022 and further to a substantial 20.6% in 2023 owing to the management team's aggressive pursuit of cost-containment strategies.

Despite operating in a challenging environment within Zimbabwe, where fuel prices are the highest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, Unifreight has managed to navigate these obstacles.

The prevailing monopoly in the ethanol market, high fuel taxes, subdued competition, lack of adequate fuel infrastructure, and vested interests have all contributed to the challenging operating environment for the country's trucking businesses.

Moreover, steep vehicle registration fees (US$1,560 in Zimbabwe compared to just US$132 in Zambia) and high duty levies on diesel have added to the difficulties faced by Unifreight.

However, the company has remained resilient, transitioning its Property Plant and Equipment policy from a cost model to a revaluation model, which resulted in a deferred tax liability of ZWL52 billion in 2023, up from ZWL billion in 2022.

Despite a challenging first quarter of 2023 marked by subdued volumes due to the introduction of the new Zimbabwean Currency, the ZiG, Unifreight remains optimistic about its future.

"Our growth is underpinned by quality contracts we have been able to execute following the completion of the fleet expansion project in 2023," said Peter Annesley, the company's chairperson, in a statement accompanying the financials.

Unifreight has successfully secured a larger share of the tobacco market, now transporting over 20% of the total Zimbabwean tobacco crop. This strategic move has contributed to the company's improved performance and profitability.

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