NT operators bear the brunt of poor roads

Northern Territory Road Transport Association says the Territory’s crumbling highways are in urgent need of attention

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | June 6, 2013

The Northern Territory’s crumbling highways are hampering transport operators and are in urgent need of attention, the Territory’s peak trucking group says.

Speaking to ATN in Darwin, Northern Territory Road Transport Association Executive Officer Louise Bilato says poor conditions are costing operators four times as much to do business due to maintenance costs as 70 percent of the road network is unsealed.

She says widening the highways by one metre on either side could make the network a lot safer and that the mining industry in the Territory could expand if the quality of the road network was improved.

"We see the road network a very high priority across the board for all businesses in the community," Bilato says.

"A lot of our guys are constantly dropping tyre pressures. That’s all time consuming but that’s the strategy trying to reduce the amount of repairs and maintenance and to stop breakdowns on the road."

Bilato believes the Federal Government has neglected the Territory in terms of road funding because of its small voting population.

"But that’s very short-sighted because the Northern Territory sits between many other states and we haven’t expanded our mining industry like Western Australia has. The Northern Territory could really facilitate the Australian economy through an ongoing mining boom if we actually had better roads," Bilato says.

Meanwhile, she says sections of the trucking industry in the Territory are struggling to remain viable.

"There are definitely some operators who have chosen to get out (of the industry) but what I know in the Territory there are also people who do it creatively and innovatively and also right on the edge," Bilato says.

"Quite a lot of our owner-operators who work for national companies are doing it very tough and it’s a fine line as to whether they can actually pick up other contracts or give them a bit of the cream on the top."

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