The freight transport industry is urging the government to support transport companies and ensure they also survive the fallout from Cyclone Gabrielle.
With highways still closed, fruit and vegetables destroyed and livestock and logs unable to be moved because of floods and slips, some companies have seen their livelihoods disappear, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett said.
“The big thing will be getting some government support in the short term to ensure businesses can meet their financial obligations and stay afloat,” he said.
“The government announced a $50m package with no details. We’re awaiting that detail from them.”
Leggett said the industry is not expecting “full-scale support, covid style”.
However, a targeted approach would ensure transport businesses remain viable and are there to assist the economy when they are needed again.
The extensive highway closures have added additional travelling time, and additional costs, to moving freight.
“Napier to Gisborne, what was probably a four-hour trip and now it’s 12 hours. Napier to Taupō is closed for who knows how long?”
There needs to be an acceptance from customers that travel might now be a two-day effort, which is two days of costs, he said.
“This all does add cost and the industry will be passing those costs on.”
Leggett said the organisation has contacted about 150 companies in recent days and the extent of damage to their infrastructure and fleet varies.
“The industry is very good at rearranging itself at short notice. The general feeling is ‘We’ll make do with what we’ve got, we’re not the worst off so we’ll keep going.’”