Supply chain links vital to getting essential supplies where they need to go must be allowed to work if trucking
companies are to survive long enough to meet the demands of the Covid-19 response, Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief
executive Nick Leggett says.
"As is appropriate, there is a strong focus on what is a health crisis and it is good to see the tremendous resource
going into that," Leggett says. "That is rightly the focus of the response.
"However, decisions are being made that adversely impact the movement of goods and the financial viability of companies
that will be essential to any recovery.
"While response is underway, there must also be planning for how we are going to get out of this and not have the
economy collapse completely.
"The Government’s decision to classify freight into two arbitrary groups - essential and non-essential - shows a lack of
understanding of what is an integrated global system.
"You take one link out, and the whole chain starts grinding to a halt. Our trucking operators are seeing that. The
burden is on them to keep essential supplies moving, but because of rules set on the fly, they may not be able to and
may go out of business.
"As an importing and exporting nation, that is a system of give and take. A ship comes in with what we want, and goes
out with what our trading partners want.
"At the moment, those ships are not being allowed to take out of New Zealand goods deemed ‘non-essential’ so there is
the possibility they will be reconsidering coming here.
"Those ships make a return journey laden with logs. But the forestry industry has been deemed ‘non-essential’ so logs
are sitting on ports both here, and in China, deteriorating to the point that no one will want them.
"And goods coming in containers deemed ‘non-essential’ have to be moved off the port and stored somewhere. If they can’t
be unloaded from the container for the four weeks of the lockdown, that comes at a cost of around $50,000 for keeping
the container that needs to go back into circulation for the supply chain to flow.
"If the goods can’t be moved from the port, there is a high cost to that both in dollar terms and in the efficiency of
"All freight needs to be free to move. The essential/non-essential distinctions present significant economic viability
issues for those freight companies operating within essential services constraint.
"The Government wants petrol delivered, but consumption is down by 80 percent. So the companies that move fuel are
trying to keep their employees with significantly reduced workloads.
"There are examples all through the supply chain and there are companies that may not make it through this four week
lockdown and have the cash reserves to just pick up and return to business. This will affect New Zealand’s economic
"We know that it is vital that items deemed essential move quickly through the supply chain, and priority should be
given to them. However, for the supply chain to actually function now, and during our nation’s economic recovery, the
classification to control its movement should be scrapped."
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.