Thanks for step­ping up

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Feature - By David Aitken, CEO of Na­tional Road Car­ri­ers As­so­ci­a­tion

ABIG THANKYOU TO EV­ERY­ONE IN the road trans­port in­dus­try for do­ing such a great job to keep this coun­try mov­ing dur­ing the var­i­ous lock­down lev­els of the COVID-19 epi­demic.

The in­dus­try has stepped up to make sure food, medicines and other es­sen­tial goods have been de­liv­ered.

Ev­ery day, driv­ers, lo­gis­tics staff and ser­vice providers have risked their health and well­be­ing to en­sure es­sen­tial freight is de­liv­ered to where it’s needed. You are the back­bone of the coun­try.

In th­ese un­cer­tain and chal­leng­ing times it’s been great to see the hard work and sac­ri­fice the road trans­port sec­tor is mak­ing. The trans­porta­tion of goods is one of the most im­por­tant func­tions in a time like this – to en­sure the coun­try can func­tion.

The in­dus­try has stood up in times of trou­ble be­fore and is do­ing so again in what is the most sig­nif­i­cant event many of us have ex­pe­ri­enced.

I would also like to recog­nise and thank the mem­bers of the NRC team, who have worked from early morn­ing un­til late at night for weeks to make sure the road trans­port com­mu­nity has been get­ting the in­for­ma­tion you need in a timely man­ner.

So thanks to Ja­son Heather, Paula Rogers, Richie Ar­ber and Marie Klokova for your ded­i­ca­tion – you’ve been amaz­ing.

We’ve re­ceived many phone calls and emails from mem­bers thank­ing us for the in­for­ma­tion and sup­port we have pro­vided and Paula even re­ceived a call from a

Waiuku com­pany owner check­ing-in that our team was okay. Ev­ery­one has been look­ing out for ev­ery­one.

There has been no short­age of chal­lenges since the Prime Min­is­ter an­nounced on Mon­day March 23 that the coun­try would go into Level 4 lock­down for four weeks.

The NRC and Road Trans­port Fo­rum teams worked hard to sort out th­ese chal­lenges.

We’ve kept up a reg­u­lar stream of emails and web­site up­dates ad­dress­ing the is­sues and help­ing to an­swer mem­bers’ ques­tions, start­ing with: “What are es­sen­tial ve­hi­cles?” And “what are es­sen­tial goods?” We needed to clar­ify very quickly what driv­ers could and couldn’t do.

Toi­let fa­cil­i­ties, plus food and drink – ba­sic needs for driv­ers on the road – then be­came a con­cern that gained me­dia at­ten­tion.

Richie touched base with ev­ery coun­cil in New Zealand to ex­plain our dilemma and ask what fa­cil­i­ties they had open. We got replies from ev­ery sin­gle coun­cil – and Civil De­fence Emer­gency, Mo­bil and Z En­ergy helped as well – so we could help cre­ate a list and share it.

Richie also took on the role of creat­ing a data­base of avail­able driv­ers should any­one need them. That started when some driv­ers called us to say they were out of work.

We turned that around and sent an email ask­ing which of those driv­ers would like to work, where they were from and what their work ex­pe­ri­ence was. Within 24 hours we had 200 emails and the data­base even­tu­ally grew to 360 driv­ers. We have had sev­eral com­pa­nies email­ing us look­ing for mul­ti­ple driv­ers and we were able to pro­vide rel­e­vant names, based on lo­ca­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ja­son has acted as the con­duit be­tween the con­tainer op­er­a­tors and the con­tainer net­work, such as Ports of Auck­land, Ports of Tau­ranga, Metro­port and the con­tainer yards.

There have still been about 700 con­tain­ers a day com­ing off POAL alone, equat­ing to 1400 truck move­ments. Ja­son has con­sol­i­dated all the in­for­ma­tion into one daily bul­letin, while also spend­ing time deal­ing with con­tainer op­er­a­tors’ is­sues.

Paula de­scribes the work the NRC team has done over this pe­riod as “prob­lem­solv­ing.” For ex­am­ple, she has worked on get­ting wa­ter pumps through to drought­stricken North­land, com­mu­ni­cat­ing the eas­ing of reg­u­la­tions, CoFs and per­mits and help­ing to an­swer more than 100 calls a day to the NRC’s vir­tual of­fice.

Marie has been creat­ing in­fo­graph­ics to make things eas­ier to un­der­stand and get­ting all our com­mu­ni­ca­tion and bul­letins out the door by email and so­cial me­dia. She has also had the grat­i­fy­ing task of re­ceiv­ing and col­lat­ing all the pos­i­tive mes­sages from mem­bers.

I would also like to thank all the other ser­vices providers that re­mained open to en­sure driv­ers could con­tinue to op­er­ate – the me­chan­ics, tyre sup­pli­ers, pan­el­beat­ers, parts sup­pli­ers and others.

And we must ac­knowl­edge the sup­port we have re­ceived from the au­thor­i­ties – AT, MoT, NZTA, CVST. They have been very help­ful, work­ing along­side a se­lect group of our mem­bers in­clud­ing Pamela Bon­ney and Chris Carr, to un­der­stand in­dus­try con­cerns.

We have also run fo­cus groups via Zoom, to get in­dus­try feed­back to pass on to the agen­cies – who have also wanted to en­sure es­sen­tial goods keep mov­ing.

We are op­er­at­ing in unique and dif­fi­cult times. But the whole trans­port sec­tor has done a fan­tas­tic job. You have made the in­dus­try and the coun­try proud. T&D

David Aitken

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