The NRC is the largest road freight transport organisation in the country, with 1700 members.
“I know there is more infrastructure spending than ever before,” said David Aitken, NRC’s chief executive officer. “But it is not keeping up with growth, particularly in Auckland.”
Aitken said the current projects were only mitigating against current problems. The next government needs to tackle the problem head on with a lot more urgency, he said.
“Forward planning is not far-reaching enough. We should be planning now and building in the short to medium term for the expected population and all its transport and traffic requirements in 10 to 20 years’ time.”
New housing and industrial developments expected to come on stream in the next five to 10 years need the increased roading infrastructure to cope with the increased population and traffic they generate, said Aitken.
Faster decision making is also needed, he said, pointing to the more than 20 years it took to get the twin tunnels link between the south western and north-western motorways. After 30 years since the initial discussions took place, the East – West link between the southern motorway at Sylvia Park to Onehunga is still only in the consent hearing stages.
Congestion in the three main cities – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch – was also a concern, said Aitken.
In the short term, no parking zones should be created along all the main arterial roads, including clearway areas, to create another lane of traffic and make better use of existing roads for the benefit of all traffic.
Outside the main centres, more effort must be put into improving the poor roading network in some parts of the country, particularly in the Far North.
Aitken said the number of weather events and natural disasters in the past 12 months had highlighted the vulnerability of the roading network, and the constant growth in tourism as well as the upsurge in forestry was putting more pressure on the roads.
“At a national level, the government must be able to respond more quickly to these events, which are costing the economy billions of dollars in productivity.”
The road freight transport sector is looking for more drivers, and the NRC is involved in a driver initiative through the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Sector Workforce Engagement Programme.
“But we also need targeted immigration to fill the jobs the local population can’t meet,” said Aitken.