Business South May 2021

| 39 TRANSPORT McNeill Distribution Concern over state of roading network T T Russell Fredric Based at Kennington near Invercargill McNeill Distribution perates a fleet of more than 80 trucks. • Livestock Cartage • Bulk Cartage • Bark & Sawdust (available now) • Certified Fertiliser Sowers with GPS (03) 203 8118 195 Main Street, Mataura Your locally owned & operated transport company PROUD TO SUPPORT MCNEILL DISTRIBUTION S outhern heavy transport operators are extremely concerned about the dimin- ishing state of parts of the rural roading network in the region. McNeill Distribution transport manager, Rhys Jones says the state of most rural roads is less than adequate and rural bridge weight specifications being derated due to their need for repairs or replacement is creating a domi- no effect throughout Southland. Part of the KGR Group, McNeill Distribution is based at Kennington near Invercargill and operates a fleet of more than 80 trucks. “The bridges all around Southland have been neglected and rather than repair or up- grade them, the local authority has chosen to derate the capacity of weight allowed across them which is seriously impeding production and growth for primary producers in South- land,” Rhy says. However he is sympathetic towards the regional council who appear hamstrung by a lack of funding from central Government, he says. The NZTA website explains that regional roads are largely funded from local rates, cen- tral government funding through the National Land Transport Fund and the National Land Transport Programme that NZTA administers. The funding a council receives from NZTA is known as the funding assistance rate (FAR) set by the Ministry of Transport. Annually, heavy vehicles contribute 1.5 billion dollars through road user charges. Having to detour trucks away from derated bridges is problematic as it creates pressure on roads that were never designed for that intensity of trucks, consequently they then deteriorate and fail which is an example of the domino effect. Poor roading infrastructure and poorly managed bridges could ultimately lead to har- vests being delayed and farming services and stock movements being hindered by access issues, Rhys says. Road user charges are McNeill Distribu- tion’s second largest cost after wages and are increased yearly “without fail”, he says. “It is problematic because we pay our way but the network they provide for us is not fit for purpose.” McNeill Distribution is a member of the Log Transport Safety Council and Road Transport Association and like other heavy transport operators, recruiting drivers continues to be an ongoing challenge. “It’s an industry wide problem that we need to address head on as the average age for a driver in New Zealand is 54, so we need to attract young people to trucking. To help address this McNeill Distribution offer cadetships and further training to help staff get their class 5 (heavy combination vehi - cle) licence and are positive about the number “It’s an industry wide problem that we need to address head on as the average age for a driver in New Zealand is 54, so we need to attract young people to trucking.” of people coming through, following their passion to drive, midlife.” “We have some drivers who have made a lifestyle change into trucking, we have an accountant, corporate manager and several tradesmen all passionate about trucking.” “We are also finding that there are more woman that want to be involved in our indus- try and they are usually good on the gear and have a good attention to detail. “Trucking is no longer a male bastion any- more, nowadays it is about if you are pre- pared to work hard, drive professionally and bring with you a positive attitude.”