© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

The transport industry reflects on level 4 as it accelerates into level 3

Nick James
railway tracks
The transport industry's work will largely increase next week.   Nick James

An increase in exports, and retailers going back to work, is looking to boost the transport industry when the Covid-19 lockdown ends on Monday night next week.

First Union Transport Logistics and Manufacturing Divisional Secretary, Jared Abbott, said it would be helpful economically to have more trucks on the roads and hoped the positive effects on the industry would trickle down.  

Abbott said there would be a massive increase of trucks on the road with the opening of retailers meaning goods could now be transported.

There would also be a big increase in consumables unavailable to the public during lockdown.

“Items have to get to people some way and if you are directing straight to their homes rather than shops that’s obviously a lot more transport than what would usually get done.”

However Abbott said there had been some deep fear in the industry about moving goods during level 4.

“We have seen drivers really concerned that they are delivering goods all around the country but also them facing quite a lot of hostility from others. This is due to people knowing they are going around the country too, with situations like workers not letting drivers come into their lunchrooms because they were worried, they were coming into their bubble.”

Abbott said transport companies at first weren’t prepared for the lockdown with workers unable to get essential PPE gear such as hand sanitiser for a week.

However, South Island regional organiser at the Rail & Maritime Transport Union John Kerr said the rail and maritime transport industry would not change too much.

While details need to be sorted about new safety procedures like sign in and sign out measures at each place of work, the industry would not change dramatically as it had already been running during level 4.

Kerr said as with the trucking industry, there would be an increase of product in both trains and in the ports as more businesses resumed and exports increased.

“Kiwi Rail have been exemplary with their pandemic response and generally the ports have been pretty good too," said Kerr. 

New Zealand will go to alert level 3 on midnight Monday next week. 

over bridge
The transport industry's work will largely increase next week. Nick James