Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) is renewing its calls for the NSW Government to deliver financial relief measures to truckies struggling to pay excessive tolls, unfair registration costs and other mounting daily operational charges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes as another Sydney toll-road is set to open in coming months. This will mean truckies working in Sydney’s north will be forced off Pennant Hills Road and have to pay tolls on Transurban’s NorthConnex tunnel, or incur hefty penalties of up to $200.
According to RFNSW Chief Executive Simon O’Hara, now is the time for the state government to review its current policies and offer incentives to use toll-roads, for the benefit of both truckies and the wider community.
“The government needs to incentivise truck operators if they expect to move heavy vehicles off suburban roads and on to expensive toll roads and motorways. It’s unfair that truckies, who are frequent users of toll roads, are given no relief, unlike other motorists,” he says.
Once the NorthConnex toll road opens, O’Hara reveals there’ll be no toll-free alternative roads for truckies to use. “That means they’ll be paying for additional tolls as part of their daily operations. It’s simply unsustainable,” he says.
“These are tough times for our members, particularly small, family-owned businesses, operating one or two trucks. The triple whammy of excessive tolls, higher rego costs and increasing port and container park charges, is causing them enormous financial hardship. In some cases, their rates no longer cover their operating costs.
“If the government is serious about getting the NSW economy moving again as part of its COVID-19 recovery plans, we believe it must restore a degree of equity for road-users and develop new solutions which will support the struggling transport industry and also the safety of the community.
“Already, caravan and camper trailer owners have saved nearly $500 after the government slashed their registration fees and we’re now calling on the government to do the same for transport operators, reducing their rego to compensate for the excessive tolls they’re forced to pay every day.
O’Hara praised the hard work of truckies, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, while facing challenges including border crossing issues and inconsistent regulations across different states.
“Working on the frontline throughout the pandemic, truckies have done a great job in delivering essential food and grocery supplies on to our supermarket shelves in very difficult circumstances,” he says. “Now, RFNSW is calling on the Government to provide them with financial relief, so they can start clawing-back costs, as Australia slumps into recession.”