Nick Leggett, the CEO of the Road Transport Forum, makes an interesting observation; “How interesting that three of the most vilified groups in New Zealand pre-Covid-19 – farmers, truck drivers and immigrants – are now the ones holding the country’s economy together.”
Leggett says he lobbied the Transport Minister Phil Twyford and his officials from the Ministry of Transport and spoke before Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee asking them to recognise the vital work trucking operators and truck drivers were doing to keep the country oiled with essential services.
“They are doing jobs they love, but they are more isolated than usual, from their whanau and colleagues. Our economy and well-being are tethered to trucking. My view is that these workers and transport operators have not perhaps had the recognition and thanks they deserve.”
He says speaking to many trucking operators since the lockdown began he finds many of them operating at a loss, because of the arbitrary labelling of freight as essential and non-essential.
“Obviously, the longer this goes on, the more businesses will fail and the more people will be unemployed. It’s imperative that transition options be developed before the lockdown ends so that businesses are able to prepare and can position themselves to be as productive as possible on day one.”
It is also interesting the transport industry around the world faced the same issues and asking for the same solutions.
The IRU (the world’s road transport organisation based in Geneva) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation have issued a joint statement calling for support from governments and international bodies. You can read that statement here.