Continuous financial support is required for the transport sector, now that the COVID-19 pandemic is, for the moment, under control. The Government should realise the importance of an effective Supply Chain when it comes to moving goods and people.
It was apparent throughout this crisis that if operating issues adversely effected the transport and logistics industry the crisis would have escalated to unmanageable terms. As long as food and essential supplies reached stores and medical centres and as long as warehouses functioned to keep the supply chain operating, the majority of the population could bunker down at home and wait for the pandemic to pass. Many of our brightest and best that work in corporate Dublin or as public servants were content to order all supplies on line, cocoon in their own world and believe as long as the internet works and the State subsidises their income, all is well. They collectively never consider it all hinges on transport and logistics industry workers – a breed of people they would not have bided the time of day to in the past.
Now what does the road transport sector need – going forward?
1) A strong and cohesive voice for all the industry. It needs a strong cohesive grouping of all associations and institutes that are involved in transport and logistics. The importance needs to be imbedded in all agricultural and manufacturing industry associations also.
2) Strong Government support is needed for this essential industry. Road transport is the life blood of the country, proper joined up thinking is required that links the industry with port and airports so that all elements can function properly and become more efficient as an island nation.
3) Proper training and business development support is needed. Look at the agricultural industry, it has training programmes, Government supported advisors and external advisors, all assisting to develop that industry. The transport and logistics industry needs that level of status and expertise.
4) Additional State and Financial (Bank) support to develop an industry long term. Asset finance is readily available but medium to long term finance to develop warehousing and logistics capabilities, as is the case in Europe is very difficult to achieve.
5) Enterprise Ireland need to be more aware of the requirement to support transport businesses with expert mentors specialising in the industry. Transport is the crucial link between manufacturing and worldwide distribution.
6) The Road Safety Authority need to step up working with the industry to increase standards and productivity – not just a box ticking exercise.
7) More research and development is necessary on the opportunity road trains (Eco-Combi 25m articulated units) present as they increase productivity in a compliant and efficient manner. As this technology has vastly improved operating legislation is required, that is forward thinking, in order to reduce emissions per km/kg carried and increase safety.