THE LAST MILE - Take a bow

Friday, July 3, 2020

1 April 2020 and a lovely fine, sunny day, but something is missing – the background noise of traffic on SH2 is not there, there are no visible signs of people, even the wildlife, sparrows and ducks seem to have all but disappeared. Welcome to our world. One cannot be anything but amazed that one small creature, that could likely sit comfortably in the palm of my hand, could cause so much chaos and financial ruin across the entire world. It shows where the real balance of power lies. We have to admire those New Zealanders who are prepared to put themselves in harm’s way to look after the health and wellbeing of us all; this includes the people who work in the supermarkets, and you, the truck drivers of our nation. Over the past week or so there have been many welldeserved accolades given to our doctors, nurses and other health professionals for a job well done, but, for some reason, I have yet to hear similar accolades expressed for the truck drivers.

Perhaps this is because our industry just gets on with the job, as it has done on many other occasions over the years, without fuss and with few thanks. One thing for sure is that when we eventually emerge from the world we are in now, whenever that happens, it will be vastly different from the one we were in just three months ago. Many businesses that were around back then will no longer be around; unfortunately some transport operators will be among these. I did read one overseas commenter who suggested that the current worldwide situation is a lot worse than it needed to be simply because for so long we have been living in a virtual fool’s paradise, happy to ignore the obvious – that many businesses were really untenable. Time will tell if he was on the right track or not.

One of the better things that has emerged from the crisis so far is that the ideologs, those who think trucking is a two-horned monster that must be eradicated for the sake of mankind, have been a lot less vocal. But then they may also be using this time for planning their next attacks. It is to be hoped that when the Government cranks up its new infrastructure initiatives it will remember that it was the trucks on the roads of this nation that delivered the goods that kept the supermarkets stocked up; not cycle lanes or people walking or trains or buses – but trucks. Let’s hope too that it’s realised that trucks are driven by people, people who need to have suitably equipped areas to pull over in safety to have a rest and a comfort break. Just as trucks have played a vital part in keeping the country fed, so too they will play an equally vital part in the rebuild.

Wouldn’t it be nice then if the Government recognised this in some tangible way, such as deferring the next RUC increase? I doubt this will happen though, because the Government will be looking to get in as much money as it can. After all, there is still an election due in September. It’s been most gratifying to see how the industry associations, along with the RTF, have stepped up to keep their members informed on what is happening and what they need to be aware of – well done. To all those involved in moving freight by road in New Zealand, take a well-deserved bow and give yourselves a big pat on the back; you deserve it. After all, if you don’t do it yourself, you can be sure nobody will do it for you. To paraphrase one of Winston Churchill’s speeches, never has so much been owed by so many to so few.