Truckies’ frustration boils over as Covid testing fails to keep up


More truck-only pop-up testing sites may be coming online every week, but there needs to be more open 24/7 and delivering faster results.

That’s the message Big Rigs was getting from a flurry of frustrated drivers this week who were just trying to do the right thing but felt stymied at every turn.

Anxious interstate truckie Don (surname withheld) called from the road yesterday while carting ‘paddock-to-plate’ produce from Melbourne to Brisbane, unsure if he’d even make it across the Queensland border today.

He’d usually have his results back from Gillenbah by now but testing delays left him sweating on them arriving in time.

“If they can’t keep up with the testing they shouldn’t make it compulsory,” said Don, 56.

“You do the right thing to get where you’re going and still can’t get through. It’s wrong.

“It’s one hell of a way to make a living, even without all this Covid stuff going on.

“Truck drivers have been cash cows and mongrels since Jesus carried the cross.”

Interstate tuckie Nathan Essex showed up at the Toowoomba hospital for a test while driving his car but said that because he was a truckie they didn’t want to know him.

“They told me I had to go to Charlton but I said I can’t go in a truck because my employer won’t allow me.

“So I show up at Charlton in my car and produce my heavy vehicle licence at 3.45pm  alongside two or three other B-doubles and a road train and they said they’d closed.

“What are we meant to do? We’re stuck.”

With a run with general freight from Brisbane to Melbourne looming, Essex is now faced with the only option of taking time out of his fatigue breaks to knock on a local hospital door on the way.

“I’ll have to unhook trailers and bob-tail around some outback town so I can get tested, and fingers crossed I get the results before Saturday.”

Essex said he had checked the NHVR site map of testing facilities but said he found it confusing to navigate, as are the various state portals.

“I tried to apply for a work permit the other week before I crossed the [Victorian] border at Echuca and it took me 20 minutes to work out how to find the permit.”

Jodie Thompson, wife of interstate truckie John Thompson, said there is even more confusion for drivers in South Australia.

“They’re supposed to be in three-day testing cycles but it takes three days just to do half a run from South Australia,” she said.

“They’re not getting any benefits of having a thing shoved up their nose every week, let alone doing it every three days.

“If there is any ever damage over this there is going to be hell to play.”

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