Sigtec pull-out means IAP may fall over

By: Jason Whittaker

A company accredited to operate the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) has ditched it in favour of more lucrative commercial opportunities,

A company accredited to operate the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) has ditched it in favour of more lucrative commercial opportunities, leading to concerns over IAP’s future.

Sigtec, which was the first company to become an IAP provider, has pulled out to concentrate on its public transport and taxi business operations.

The Melbourne-based company’s decision prompted Transtech, the second accredited provider, to release a statement claiming it has an "unwavering" commitment to IAP.

"We have been providing integrated software solutions for the heavy vehicle transport industry for over 10 years and are here for the long haul," Transtech Chief Executive Shaun Owen says.

But one vocal IAP critic claims Transport Certification Australia (TCA), which administers IAP, has misled providers on the program's commercial viability, while a lack of clientele and a difficult compliance process contributed to Sigtec’s decision.

"This leaves Transtech, which has been reported to be struggling to establish itself due to a lack of internal understanding of the system," the critic says.

"This means IAP could well fall over."

The source has also questioned the effectiveness of the TCA’s due diligence process because Sigtec was able to get so involved in IAP before withdrawing its services.

The TCA is attempting to extinguish concerns over IAP’s future, with Chief Executive Chris Koniditsiotis claiming there are 10 more potential applicants.

However, he declined to give details and will not say when another provider will be named.

"It has always been TCA’s position that the time taken to achieve certification is dependent on the progression and advancement of each applicant. It is not something dictated by timelines," Koniditsiotis says.

He has dismissed concerns trucking operators using Sigtec will be left in limbo, saying the company is working with Transtech to move operators over to its system.

Koniditsiotis has also refuted claims there are any difficulties or concerns being raised by the providers.

"That’s news to us," he says.

But the TCA may look at reviewing the probity process, with Koniditsiotis saying the company will sit down and look at the outcomes of each exercise to see if improvements can be made.

He is also confident of IAP’s future based on the opportunities he says it can provide.

"We have significant uses identified in both NSW and Queensland with a coinciding transition date to July 1, 2009 and, more recently, Victoria’s announcement of the IAP to provide increased access for mobile cranes and concrete pump trucks," Koniditsiotis says.

But until another provider is named operators will need to work in a monopolised market. Koniditsiotis has previously advocated competition to give operators a choice.

While he says not all 10 potential applicants may gain accreditation, Koniditsiotis is confident there "will be a significant number of providers to choose from".

Despite referring to Sigtec’s decision as "unfortunate", Koniditsiotis welcomed its intention to look at licensing its IAP technology to interested parties.

"The RTA has also advised it is working collaboratively with affected transport operators to ensure there is a continuity of higher productivity access entitlements, and to minimise any operational impacts," Koniditsiotis says.

However, Koniditsiotis says the RTA will not extend the IAP transition period.

He says Sigtec still has another couple of months before its commitment to IAP ends. During that time he hopes it will work with Transtech so operators "can move to a new provider as smoothly as possible".

Operators must sign up to IAP to access HML routes in NSW and Queensland. The device monitors truck movements to ensure drivers comply with conditions stipulated by road transport authorities.

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