Road Transport Forum News

 
Freeing up freight critical to recovery

Freeing up freight critical to recovery

Road Transport Forum News

 June 2020    RTF News

The COVID-19 crisis has presented the Road Transport Forum with some substantial challenges over the past two to three months.

None of these, of course, can compete with the challenges faced by our members and those within the wider industry that have been struggling to keep transport businesses going in a period of significantly reduced demand.

One of our biggest tasks has been convincing the Government to take a pragmatic approach to the treatment of non-essential freight. Initially a confusing matrix of advice meant that businesses were told they could receive and unpack non-essential goods….then they were told they couldn't. And finally it was confirmed that they could.

This created a huge amount of uncertainty right across the economy and it was frustrating to have to go through the process of explaining to Government officials and ministers just how difficult it was from our industry's point of view to operate just with essential freight.

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The COVID-19 crisis has presented the Road Transport Forum with some substantial challenges over the past two to three months.
None of these, of course, can compete with the challenges faced by our members and those within the wider industry that have been struggling to keep transport businesses going in a period of significantly reduced demand.
One of our biggest tasks has been convincing the Government to take a pragmatic approach to the treatment of non-essential freight. Initially a confusing matrix of advice meant that businesses were told they could receive and unpack non-essential goods….then they were told they couldn't. And finally it was confirmed that they could.
This created a huge amount of uncertainty right across the economy and it was frustrating to have to go through the process of explaining to Government officials and ministers just how difficult it was from our industry's point of view to operate just with essential freight.
The supply chain, we argued, only works if all the links of that chain remain intact: Try to remove non-essential freight and the whole supply chain will break down, creating bottlenecks that will inevitably lead to essential freight being held up also. Keeping the supply chain intact also meant that businesses who received that freight were in a much better position to open to customers as we moved down through the alert levels.
RTF also undertook an extensive amount of work with New Zealand Transport Agency officials on gaining relief for operators around compliance and technical issues. We are particularly pleased that trucks and trailers that are in a safe condition will be able to operate without a valid CoF and won't be subject to CoF inspection until October 10, 2020.
However, we do advise operators to have their CoF inspections carried out at their earliest opportunity to avoid the high demand for inspections as inspectors deal with the anticipated backlog.
Where we didn't have so much success was in requesting the Government reduce RUCs during the Level 4 and Level 3 lockdowns. We strongly made the point that this was an overhead that, if alleviated, could be very beneficial to many operators during what are very tough times.
However, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford cited the other forms of assistance being provided to businesses and the loss of RUC revenue to the National Land Transport Fund as reasons why the Government did not support this proposal.
I must say, through this crisis I have been pretty disappointed with many in our news media and commentariat who have prevented much-needed debate over the Government's response to COVID-19.
We can be thankful that in many respects our Government was quick to act and when it did it made some decisive decisions that may well have saved NZ from the fate of some of the more badly-affected countries around the world. However, that does not mean that they have got everything right – and nor would one expect them to.
Opposition and dissension are actually extremely important parts of the democratic process and can play a very constructive role in highlighting areas of neglect and parts of the Government's response that need improvement.
Unfortunately, we have developed a mainstream culture so sycophantic to the current administration that opposition to decisions has, more often than not, been shouted-down and in many cases ridiculed.
The fact is there are important questions that need answering, and you can be sure when it comes to the freight task and the future of our economy, that RTF will keep asking them.
Finally, I just want to promote an innovative programme recently developed by NZ Trade and Enterprise. It is an online marketplace for NZ businesses to match offers and requests for resources – for instance, those who have no work can get in touch with those who do….but are short of the workers to necessarily do it.
It's a good idea and covers the freight sector, so if you think that could be useful to you, go to nz-marketplace.nzte.govt.nz


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