NZ Truck & Driver News

 
Semenoff story adds news twists

Semenoff story adds news twists

NZ Truck & Driver News

 March 2020   
A long-running dispute between big Northland transport operator, the Semenoff Group, and the New Zealand Transport Agency over allegedly short-paid Road User Charges and a failure to address safety concerns, has taken new twists and turns.

Firstly last month came a press release from Teletrac Navman detailing how the Group is embracing compliance, safety and asset management with the installation of the telematics supplier's GPS-based fleet management equipment and software.

The group will, said Teletrac Navman, adopt its systems across its entire fleet of close on 100 vehicles, starting with its bulk cartage, livestock and log transport operations.

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A long-running dispute between big Northland transport operator, the Semenoff Group, and the New Zealand Transport Agency over allegedly short-paid Road User Charges and a failure to address safety concerns, has taken new twists and turns.
Firstly last month came a press release from Teletrac Navman detailing how the Group is embracing compliance, safety and asset management with the installation of the telematics supplier's GPS-based fleet management equipment and software.
The group will, said Teletrac Navman, adopt its systems across its entire fleet of close on 100 vehicles, starting with its bulk cartage, livestock and log transport operations.
After using a number of different telematics systems following several business acquisitions over the last 10 years, the company was now "looking to upgrade to an all-in-one solution, including compliance, safety and logistics technology, for its entire mixed fleet."
As well as in-cab devices for easy
communications and transport-specific applications, it was adding Teletrac Navman's electronic logbook, speed assist and pre-start checklist for drivers, and RUC Manager for electronic RUC management and processing offroad rebates.
In the press release, Group MD Stan Semenoff said: "I have been in transport for 50 years this year. I have always considered the safety of my staff and other road users as paramount and our record of no serious incidents is testament to this. 
"We have been working with Teletrac Navman for some time to use new technology to continually improve our focus on safety." He's looking forward, he added, to integrating the fleet's telematics "to streamline our operations and futureproof our business."
Group operations manager Alexander Semenoff says the installation will "ensure every truck in the Semenoff Group is operating efficiently, safely, and is tracked and monitored to ensure those outcomes." 
A week later, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said its approach to calculating and collecting RUCs – as applied in assessing that Stan Semenoff Logging reportedly owes over $532,000 in unpaid RUCs – has been upheld by the High Court.
The Court's judgment on an appeal by the company, confirmed the NZTA's process of calculating RUCs owed by operators who carry loads in excess of the weights they'd declared. 
The NZTA approach had previously been upheld in the District Court, when it dismissed an appeal by the company – and Justice Gordon's High Court judgment stated that "the onus falls squarely on the operator not to overload." A vehicle operator, it added, "is required to ensure that it has the appropriate distance licence at all times."
NZTA's general manager, regulatory services Kane Patena said that "Justice Gordon's ruling sends a message to operators: Paying the right RUC for your vehicle is not negotiable."
Then, a day or so later, Stan Semenoff Logging told The Northern Advocate that it had a letter from the NZTA, dated February 3, saying that its March 2019 decision to revoke the company's transport service licence – due to its alleged continuing failure to address safety concerns – had now been withdrawn.
The letter, from the agency's senior manager safer commercial transport Brett Aldridge, reportedly said that the revocation was "no longer needed" – adding that the agency and SSL had agreed to "certain conditions relating to the trucking company's operation, and staff management had undertaken to adhere to for six months.
"SSL of course remains subject to ongoing oversight by the Transport Agency, as is the case with all transport service providers."
SSL successfully appealed a decision to revoke the licence and its trucks continued to work until a court hearing.
Stan Semenoff told the paper that the Agency had "got it wrong" in the first place and the letter confirmed that.
He reportedly also said, in response to the High Court's dismissal of the company's appeal against its unpaid RUC assessment, that the case was "not over yet."  


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