OSOM permit waits forcing rule breakers

Oversize, Overmass (OSOM) permit turnaround times have become critically slow according to one Melbourne logistics operator.

Sean Caulfield, who runs Delcom Haulage, says as a Tier 1 contractor, trying to undertake jobs legally has become an issue in terms of OSOM permit turnaround times.

“It’s not so bad interstate. It’s more for the local metro areas,” said Caulfield.

“Around our Melbourne metro areas, we’re restricted to 3 metres wide and 4.3 metres high. Anything over that we’re having a lot of trouble getting permits.”

Caulfield says it can take up to 28 days from application in the NHVR portal before he can even expect to receive a response.

“If I’ve got external customers calling me up that want to get plants moved, we basically have to say no. It’s really starting to hurt our bottom line.”

Caulfield explained that Victorian applications used to be handled by the VicRoads permit department for Melbourne metropolitan areas, whereas now the NHVR is dealing with all of the permits Australia-wide (with the exception of the Northern Territory and Western Australia).

“You enter a queue. Sometimes it can take 4 or 5 days just to get from the NHVR to VicRoads and then they won’t really want to talk to you at all until VicRoads have had it for 28 days. It used to only take a day to get a permit,” said Caulfield.

“The problem is we have a lot of really big government projects for level crossing removals and we’re waiting a month to move stuff around.”

Caulfield said the lengthy turnaround time was forcing some transport and logistics operators to run the gauntlet and take their chances without permits just to keep money coming in.

“People will break the rules anyway,” said Caulfield.

“Unfortunately, we can’t do that, because if something goes wrong you’ve got no insurance. Chain of Responsibility is a serious issue.

“I totally understand the process, but it’s just a terrible system.”

A spokesperson for the NHVR told Big Rigs that in 2021 the average end-to-end turnaround time for OSOM permits was 11.5 calendar days – a reduction from 13.3 calendar days in 2020.

The regulator said it been able to reduce turnaround times for processing OSOM permits from an average of 2.3 calendar days in 2020 to 1.7 days in 2021.

An OSOM vehicle operating without a permit is assessed from the statutory mass and dimension requirements. A severe risk mass contravention has a maximum court-imposed penalty of between $11,490 and $22,790, while a severe risk dimension contravention has a maximum court-imposed penalty of $11,490.

VicRoads has updated pilot requirements in Victoria. More information is available here and detailed below.

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