Call for financial support of remote WA roadhouses


ALRTA and NHVR focus on value of keeping facilities available to truck drivers

Call for financial support of remote WA roadhouses
Vince Catania, during a rare visit to Canberra

 

The Western Roads Federation (WRF) joins and Western Australia Nationals small business and transport spokesperson Vince Catania in calling for financial support for remote regional roadhouses.

Catania says that "the crucial rigid travel bans and border restrictions are a non-negotiable in protecting and mitigating the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as is the absolute need to ensure our road transport and freight systems remain in operation in a safe environment.

"With our WA borders closed and regions shut down, our regional roadhouses are not commercially viable but are critical to our ability to sustain a road supply chain to the regions through serving the needs of these essential services."

CEO of Western Roads Federation Cam Dumesny says that "roadhouses and the industry in WA and NT absolutely understand and agree with the critical need for their services and facilities to remain accessible for the freight and transport industry."

"The extreme decline in trade coupled with very high operating costs in remote regional areas, has left many of the roadhouses in an unviable position, and there’s deep concern over their ability to remain sustainable in the future, let alone be able to fund these additional government Covid-19 requirements without financial assistance." 


Read about the NHVR’s warning on maintaining safe practices, here


Meanwhile, a group with a special regard for roadhouse services, the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters’ Associations (ALRTA), sees the exemption is a common sense outcome and testament to the importance of the road transport sector.

"Our association has been working hard to ensure that road transport is recognised as an essential service," ALRTA national president Stephen Marley says.

"Governments have kept their borders open to trucks, freight and logistics personnel and removed unnecessary red tape that was limiting productivity.

"This has enabled our sector to continue supporting Australian businesses and communities during the Covid-19 crisis

"We understand that the prohibition on the operation of dine-in restaurants and cafes was established with the best of intentions under time-critical emergency circumstances. 

"Unfortunately, it also had the effect of limiting access to meals, lounges, toilets and showers for our drivers.

"The exemption is necessary so we can continue to provide an essential service to all Australians. I strongly encourage all drivers to be aware of and observe the related protocols for their own safety and that of truckstop staff."

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) concurs on the value of roadhouses to drivers in the midst of the pandemic.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says that a set of standard protocols would support both businesses and drivers to stay safe through this period.

"For road freight to move safely, truck driver health and fatigue needs to be managed with regular breaks and facilities for truck drivers to eat, shower, use restrooms, refuel and rest comfortably before resuming their work," he adds. 

"These sensible guidelines will help to keep facilities open by prioritising the health and safety of both staff and drivers as they carry out the incredibly important roles they are playing in the midst of this crisis.

"Things like properly cleaning and sanitising showers and toilets, spacing out seating, minimising interactions between staff and drivers and removing self-serve options can go a long way to slowing down the spread of the coronavirus.

"For drivers, things like washing hands on your way in and out, not staying longer than an hour and practicing social distancing will support these facilities to remain open.

"We understand that, given the economic circumstances, not all stations will be able to stay open. I encourage drivers if in doubt to call ahead to check.

"These changes will come into effect immediately."

The following applies to businesses operating a truck driver lounge, truck driver room or similar facility at a roadside service centre or service stations:

  • these facilities will be authorised to continue providing services to heavy vehicle drivers in need of food, showers, restrooms and a place to break from driving to manage their fatigue
  • this exemption is subject to the service station, service centre, road house or similar facility implementing additional protocols provide appropriate social distancing and hygiene arrangements for these facilities
  • the facility will remain closed to all other patrons who are not part of the heavy vehicle supply chain.

 

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