The Road Haulage Association is deeply concerned that the Scottish Government does not seem to fully appreciate the economic impact that the closure of the Forth Road Bridge will have on the haulage industry in Scotland.
“The knock-on effects for hauliers are already beginning to bite”, said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett (@RHARichardB). “Although we welcome the dedicated HGV route on the A985, the additional cost to hauliers is immense. The extra cost for a single HGV to replace what is in effect, a 2.5 mile journey with a detour that can amount to approximately a 60 mile round trip will add an extra £30 in fuel costs alone. With an estimated 10,500 HGVs using the Bridge each day, the additional operating costs for the industry will be well in excess of £600,000 per day.
“Already we have had reports from members who have had no alternative but to ask their customers for a rate rise. A request that has, unsurprisingly, been met with a great deal of resistance.
“In addition to the increase in operating costs, the overall efficiency of the haulage industry in Scotland is already being greatly reduced as a journey that would take 30 minutes can now take up to three hours if the route is congested.”
The RHA welcomes the announcement from the Department for Transport that there is to be to temporary and limited relaxation of drivers’ hours regulations but remains concerned that many operators will be unable to complete their contracts during the course of a normal working day.
“This current state of affairs in unsustainable and we shall be pushing the Scottish government for compensation”, continued Richard Burnett. “Hauliers, already working to tight margins simply cannot absorb these extra costs.
“We need answers. Why, despite regular routine inspections, were these defects not picked up before? And why did they become so serious so quickly?
“The major distribution centres based on the north, Fife side of the River are totally reliant on an efficient, swift transport system. The run-up to Christmas is the busiest time of year for these companies and the system, through no fault of its own, has broken down.