Charges threat to truckies
Consumers will end up paying more for goods when the cost of transporting them increases under new road user charges, truckies warn.
And one Hamilton transport company owner says the changes will cost him about $360,000 extra each year, and could force him out of business.
Under the present system trucks are charged according to weight, based on the theory that heavier trucks do more damage to the roads. But, under the changes coming into force on August 1, they will be charged on the weight the truck is capable of carrying, whether empty, half-loaded, or full.
Arnott's Inter Island Carriers owner Allan Arnott said it was a "nail in the coffin" for his company and would cost him an extra $29,000 a month - about $360,000 more each year. That cost would have to be passed on to customers and, ultimately, to "Joe Bloggs" consumers.
"This is a crippling thing. Two things are going to happen - there's going to be people laid off, because we're going to lose work out of this, or the last resort will be closure of the doors.
"We've been in business 30-plus years doing this. We've survived the recession, or still surviving it; we've survived the earthquakes - 75 per cent of our work is Christchurch-based and that Christchurch earthquake killed us; this here's just a nail in the coffin."
He said the system was unfair and unsafe. It would force some truckies to take risks, such as reducing the number of axles on their trailers to lower costs, making the units unstable and potentially putting people's lives in danger. Morrinsville's Normans Transport and Storage transport manager, Grant Bagshaw, said the changes had been poorly explained and he still had a number of unanswered questions. He estimated the changes would cost the company between 7 and 10 per cent more, similar to Mr Arnott.
But some transport companies will be paying less under the new system. Mr Arnott said he knew of one Waikato company set to save $2 million a year. Transport Ministry general manager of financial and economic performance, Gareth Chaplin, said the new system would simplify administration for the industry and government agencies. He said that though some operators would pay more under the new system, none would pay more than the average that was paid for the same trucks under the old system. He said the ministry would evaluate the new system, but it was too early to say if changes would be made.