There’s been a lot of discussion about rest areas and rest area funding but precious little about changeover bays.
Trucking is an essential service. Like they say without trucks Australia stops.
The infrastructure we need to keep the freight moving as safely as possible is also essential. It’s also essential that facilities be appropriately sited and properly managed.
Changeovers between our capital cities have been a staple of operations for many years.
Drivers have got by with some pretty poor facilities, just dropping trailers on the side of the road is now rightly considered an unacceptable exposure to danger. There’s a constant conversation about doing our jobs safely and more than enough groups and individuals happy to take pot shots at us.
However, when it comes to getting the funding or the planning permission to do something that makes our job safer or easier there’s silence or a ‘not in my back yard mate’ attitude. The major carriers are also quite happy to let expenses fall to others wherever possible.
Conversation is now turning to the need for a changeover facility at Clybucca. Something that should have been addressed, discussed, planned and constructed before the bypass was even opened to the public.
The fact this didn’t happen even though some raised their voices to the issue in good time and those voices were ignored tells you how sometimes not a lot of thought goes into what we, as an industry, need.
Once again, the realisation that we do need a plan to be safe hits too late.
The concern for many now is the plan for Clybucca will be made without consideration or consultation with the people who have to endure the consequences with no requests or only limited time for comment.
This has been the case with the existing changeover areas at both Tarcutta and Nhill. Whoever was responsible for the design of the bay at Tarcutta needs to have a long hard look at the shortcomings of that project.
Hundreds of trucks use changeover facilities each day. They’re not standard rest areas and shouldn’t be lumped together with them, certainly not a great venue for a long break.
Only a masochist would choose to expose themselves to a night of reversing beepers, slamming turntables, landing gear, fridge motors and noisy truck drivers, let alone the ones who need to change down 10 gears and Jake to the entrance. What a wonderful rest!
Frankly this is what we bring to the small towns of Tarcutta and Nhill. We also bring the cost of maintaining the facilities. We pay nothing and expect these facilities to be there for our use. Well, not all our use, only the ones doing the changeovers. Most of us don’t go anywhere near one.
I can’t think of a good reason the council of Tarcutta or Nhill and perhaps soon, Clybucca should be happy their ratepayers are forking out to support the maintenance of the changeover bays. It doesn’t happen for nothing.
There are a couple of possibilities that are worth considering when it comes to changeover bays and even rest areas in general. First among those is the idea of partnerships between fuel companies, councils and government. This has shown to be a successful model both at Miriam Vale and in Darwin.
Acquiring land adjacent to existing or planned service centre and expanding the facility to more vehicles and parking therefore improving the availability of amenities to drivers. There’s no reason the required changeover area at Clybucca couldn’t be delivered in this way.
A second reasonable option would be that the companies whose drivers use the facilities contribute to the maintenance cost. Their drivers are the ones using the amenities.
I’d expect it’s a relatively simple process to work out who uses the changeover areas and then another simple mathematical process to work out how much it costs to provide the maintenance of the area and apportion a charge commensurate with the use.
What is a clean shower and toilet facilities at a changeover facility worth to a driver and why shouldn’t the cost be met by the employers? We’re constantly told we’re part of the team, then why can’t drivers be afforded the same access to clean well-maintained facilities as does office, admin, management or any other member of ‘the team’?
A purpose built, well-lit and spacious area allowing room for the larger combinations to manoeuvre safety and proper amenities for drivers at Clybucca is a priority.
How the maintenance of that facility once delivered, should be considered as a part of the planning.
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