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She’ll be right message from Government not good enough

"She’ll be right" is the message from the Government when it comes to insurance liability of trucks during Level 4 lockdown, says Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett.

"That message was reiterated at the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee today, but it is not good enough for operators who have trucks that could be worth several hundred thousand dollars," Leggett says.

"No disrespect to insurance companies, they do the job they do and they service industry well; but the Government is asking trucking operators to simply trust those companies to honour contracts for trucks that cannot have their Certificates of Fitness (CoF) renewed, driven by drivers who cannot have their licences renewed due to Level 4 restrictions. It brings to mind that popular Kiwi saying, yeah right.

"The same risk can apply to Police on the ground as enforcers of the rules. They are doing a great job, but we are concerned they won’t always get the messages from Wellington and they will do their job if they see a truck without a CoF, or find a driver whose licence has expired.

"Since day one of this Level 4 lockdown, and on several occasions since, the RTF has requested Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency put in writing its intent to issue a notice granting concession on CoF and driver licence expiry. However, despite verbal assurance of this, Waka Kotahi will not commit to putting that on record.

"Despite this being provided by a Government order during the previous Level 4 lockdown, it appears this time there is some confusion between the Ministry of Transport and Waka Kotahi on how to achieve this at the moment.

"The inability of government to make decisions in this particular lockdown is causing us a lot of concern. We have been told, regarding the CoFs and licences, and I quote:

"There are no policy decisions which have [been] made yet, the small extensions to lockdown are not giving us the certainty everyone needs to make some solid calls."

"Rule number one of crisis management is you make decisions with the information you have on the day. Instead, we appear to have officials overcome by timidity," Leggett says.

"We simply cannot understand why, after a year and a half, these things have not been planned for. It is very clear, there is no plan.

"The next hurdle for moving freight is going to be when the government decides to lock Auckland and parts of the Waikato off from the rest of the country. In August last year, we saw this turn to a serious health and safety issue for drivers, a critical animal welfare issue, and a cause of waste of perishable food, as well as risk to essential medicines reaching their destination.

"Given this was a monumental mess last time, we continue to ask to be part of planning for this - which could happen as early as Friday night this week. But we are told the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Ministry of Health will be the decision makers on this. We question the capability of government officials to make decisions about the flow of freight and the welfare of all the horses, bobby calves, lambs, and other animals being transported at this time."

About Road Transport Forum New Zealand (RTF)

RTF provides unified national representation for several regional trucking associations. RTF members include Road Transport Association NZ, National Road Carriers, and NZ Trucking Association. The affiliated representation of the RTF is about 3,000 individual road transport companies which in turn, operate 16-18,000 trucks involved in road freight transport, as well as companies that provide services allied to road freight transport.

The road freight transport industry employs 32,868 people (2.0% of the workforce), has a gross annual turnover of $6 billion, and transports 93% of the total tonnes of freight moved in New Zealand.

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