Debt mounts as trucking industry grinds to a standstill

The trucking industry is facing crippling debt with loads unable to move due to flooding.
The trucking industry is facing crippling debt with loads unable to move due to flooding.

THE wrath of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald goes far beyond damage to the state's highway network, with a signficant freight backlog waiting to be trucked into central Queensland.

But roads are buckled and cut off at multiple points, and the mining industry and truck haulage companies are suffering in the wake of a six-week storm season.

The recovery status sits at 5845km of affected roads in Queensland, of which 2736km are now open with conditions.

The conditions, ranging from damaged infrastructure to soft patches or load limits, have extensively affected heavy vehicle transportation, Queensland Trucking Association chief executive Peter Garske said.

"There is a large amount of freight around south-east Queensland seeking the permit to go," Mr Garske said.

"It's not just general run-of-the mill B-doubles and semi trailers, we're talking about the hundreds of loads that move every week with over-dimensional equipment.

"In Emerald you see those vehicles all the time on the road moving under escort to and from mining sites.

"In the Bowen Basin, a lot of it moves in and out of Mackay for maintenance.

"There is an enormous amount of freight to be moved and the weather events of the last six weeks have created a significant backlog."

Due to flooding, 510 loads have been unable to move and 55 special permits have been issued for oversized vehicles.

Mr Garske said the problem created issues for mine managers because their clients were getting impatient and didn't understand the problems facing operators to get permits and the necessary police pilots organised.

"At the end of the week around Australia Day, there were hundreds of loads waiting to move and now the latest events of the last four days… we've got more delays because of road closures," he said.

The trucks are getting stranded and at a high price.

"Pick a number - $10,000 to $20,000 a day in lost productivity at the other end," Mr Garske said.

The hold-up is costing money and valuable time.

"It's the delay - the four or five days the trucking operator never regains. Those are the other loads he could be carrying.

"There is enormous activity still occurring, with existing and developing mine sites," he said.

"If the roads keep getting flooded, you will not be able to see the roads for trucks when they get back going, because the freight demand is so huge.

"People are working full time to deal with the problems and co-ordinate the movement.

"We can't control the road conditions. We just have to keep working and the industry has to undertake very detailed planning and work with customers."

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