Call for national freight route alert system as massive NT bushfires continue

NT bushfire

Bushfires half the size of Tasmania have been burning across the NT since mid-September, leading to regular closures of the major freight routes in the area.

The Western Roads Federation (WRF), WA’s peak trucking body, says these fires serve as an early warning of what is to come this bushfire season, and has now joined forces with the NT Road Transport Association (NRTA) to call for a national interstate freight route alert system.

“The lessons learnt during the 2020 Eyre Highway fires and again being learnt by the Barkly Highway fires is that early advice has to be given to interstate operators that a road is closed due to a fire or flood incident,” said WRF CEO Cam Dumesny.

“Currently all systems are state-based, leading to some interstate drivers arriving at, or near incident sites. A national system enabling earlier incident advice to interstate drivers may enable them to consider alternative plans.

“Having a single site may also address the issue of some jurisdictions posting notifications on different platforms, not all of which are read by interstate drivers.”

Dumesny said the components for a solution are already at hand with most jurisdictions having their own travel alerts, such as the Mains Roads Travel Map, and Road Report NT.

“Potentially these could be integrated into one national alert system, with automated texts for subscribing interstate companies and drivers,” Dumesny suggests.

“Early advice and notification will provide companies and drivers with the opportunity to reconsider their plans.”

Dumesny also shared the graphic below from the NRTA showing the theoretical impact road closures would have for truckies.

“It illustrates the vulnerability of freight routes coming into a high risk summer,” added Dumesny, frustated by the fact the industry still doesn’t have a national resilience plan, despite several years of disruptions.

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