August 21 2014, updated 9:42pm

'Idiot' pair mar truckie protest

Last updated 00:10 04/07/2008
AVRIL MEYERS
QUEEN STREET CRAWLS: The convoy in Auckland's CBD.
JONATHAN CAMERON/Manawatu Standard
JONATHAN CAMERON/Manawatu Standard ROAD USER PROTEST: Cars build up in Rangitikei Street, many honking their support, as a truck crosses Grey Street intersection.
KIRK HARGREAVES/The Press
RUMBLING IN: Trucks make their way through Christchurch.
KELLY HODEL/Waikato Times
SLOW TRAFFIC: A convoy of trucks through Victoria St, Hamilton, this morning.
TRAFFIC SNARLED: Scenes from around he country.

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Organisers of today's protest are furious at a couple of Tauranga truckies who blocked off a bridge north of the city.

Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said two drivers parked their trucks on State Highway 2 north of Katikati for almost half an hour.

"They abandoned their vehicles in the middle of a bridge and that certainly was outside the protest parameters and the organisation was pretty annoyed at that."

A spokesman for the Road Transport Forum said they were not impressed by the pair.

"We have spoken to our coordinator in the area who is spitting tacks.

"Two idiots decided they would take their own action. The organisers are absolutely furious with them."

He said only one of the truckies belonged to the local association.

"As soon as (organisers) found out what was happening they rang the member company and told them to get their driver to move the truck immediately, then they told the police to go and ticket them. And I hope they do."

When police arrived the trucks appeared abandoned and police had to go in search of the drivers.

"They haven't been arrested at this stage but they may face charges," Mr Campion said.

He acknowledged that organisers couldn't control everyone involved in the protest and said it was "just one isolated incident".

Earlier today between 300 and 500 trucks were estimated to have rolled through the city causing only minor delays. By 10am Tauranga was back to normal.

MEETING

Meanwhile Transport Minister Annette King will meet trucking industry representatives on July 14 to discuss the way the controversial Road User Charges are set for heavy vehicles.

A spokesman for Ms King confirmed the meeting tonight and said discussions at official level had already started.

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The industry has two complaints -- it says charges have been raised at the worst possible time because of soaring petrol prices, and it wasn't given notice.

Ms King says the last time charges were raised, trucking companies spent more than $17 million pre-purchasing licences to beat the deadline.

Prime minister Helen Clark said today the talks were unlikely to result in a backdown on the latest increase.

She said if the industry had "fair points" to put on the table, the government would listen.

Miss Clark said it was important truckies paid their fair share, and other road users had been picking up the bulk of the cost of maintaining the transport system.

TRUCK PROTESTS A SMOOTH RIDE

Truck convoys clogged motorways and New Zealand city centres this morning, but advance warning meant major logjams were avoided.

"It's generally been going very well. We've been maintaining a good liaison with the convoy organisers. There have been a few minor issues as people approaching intersections and with merging," Wellington police spokeswoman Kaye Calder said.

She was speaking as 300 trucks encircled the CBD, filing past Parliament on their way out of town.

The protest is over the Government's decision to increase road user charges, which many truckies say would be passed on to customers and could force them out of business.

The convoy was long enough that as the first trucks looped the city before rejoining the northbound highway, they passed the tail which was still heading into the city.

In Auckland protest organisers said they were "over the moon" at the response from both truckies and members of the public delayed by the gridlocked roads.

However, it also gave many motorists a cleaner and quicker run into town, particularly along the motorways and main feeder routes into the city as other motorists heeded police advice to take a day off, delay their journey into town or use public transport.

Kelvin Bonney from the Road Transport Users Forum said an estimated 3000 trucks headed into the city.

He said the protest was so successful organisers began turning them back on the motorway before they reached town.

"It was bumper to bumper, two lanes wide from the bottom of Queen St to Papakura," he said.

"We are more than happy, absolutely overwhelmed and it shows the country wants to be listened to."

He said his cellphone had not stopped ringing or getting text messages, all of them positive and in support of the protest.

"They are all texting and ringing and saying I don't care if I am late for work," Mr Bonney said.

During the protest many Queen St onlookers cheered and encouraged drivers to toot their horns.

Student Dushar Joshi said he supported the protest. He said he would be 15 minutes late to class because of the protest but the inconvenience was insignificant.

Act Party leader Rodney Hide, who took the train into the city, said he "absolutely 100 per cent" supported the truckies.

He said the truckies were being taxed unfairly and the Government's purchase of KiwiRail was unfair.

He said the truckies were propping up rail which was competing against them.

Christchurch police charged with keeping traffic moving were faced with a daunting task when three times the predicted number of trucks showed up.

Road policing group Acting Senior Sergeant Les McKay said they had initially been told around 200 trucks would be taking part, but 600 trucks descended on the city.

Protests have affected cities around the country including Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Rotorua, Whangarei, Hamilton, Rotorua, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Nelson, Dunedin, Gore and Invercargill.

- NZPA

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