Oversize industry applauded
OVERALL, THE OVERSIZE INDUSTRY SECTOR TOOK A responsible attitude to the Level 4 lockdown – and stayed at home. The debate in New Zealand was around what was essential and non-essential freight movement, and while most industries that oversize transport operators service were in lockdown, operators accepted that the best way to control the virus spread in NZ was for them also to be at home.
Contrast this with the situation in Australia, the United States and United Kingdom, where all freight was deemed able to travel. Obviously, in times to come, there will be others who look into what the best approach was – however most oversize operators here were willing to stay in lockdown…if this meant that we were all able to get back to work sooner, and the overall effect on the economy was less severe.
Nevertheless, it was with some relief that most oversize operators and associated industry clients returned to work under the Level 3 restrictions.
However it needs to be recognised that the oversize industry by and large took the heed to stay in lockdown seriously and didn’t push the envelope on what freight was deemed to be essential freight.
There were a few oversize loads that were considered to be essential. A major oversize task was clearing a shipload of 99 wind turbine blades that needed to be moved out of Port Taranaki, in New Plymouth, to make room for other inbound freight arriving off other ships.
There were also other equipment movements out of other ports, goods moved for the primary sector, and also some large manufactured items that needed to be transported to the Ports of Auckland, to be shipped to Melbourne for healthcare purposes.
This has been a challenging period and the support from Government in terms of the wage subsidy was certainly appreciated by the oversize industry – as were other financial measures.
In terms of governmental agency support, it needs to be recognised that the two-way communication with both the Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency was considerable. The NZ Heavy Haulage Association was included in many conference calls to keep us up to date with developments and the Agency in particular was very interested to hear from industry about what our issues were and how they could assist with them.
They didn’t manage to achieve everything that would have enabled the oversize industry to work more efficiently at Level 3, but we hope that the open communication channels and attitude towards solving problems in conjunction with industry will continue into the future.
A key role that the association also carried out was the writing and distribution to members of a guidance document and template for a Site Safety Plan for operating under Level 3. A lot of industry groups have developed these, but because of the unique operation of the oversize industry – involving teams of workers including load pilots, overhead escorts and other subcontractors – the association developed template documents that members could adapt to their own operations, in particular highlighting physical distancing, contact tracing and sanitising.
This last couple of months have been challenging for the oversize industry, but the responsible and pro-active measures that the members and the association have taken will stand us in good stead for the future. T&D