' How many `streetwise'
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people work for the DOT?'
, :lye you noticed how things are
i eally hotting up in the trade press with transport people being openly critical of the Department of Transport and the role the trade associations play in representing this industry?
The Government and the DOT are playing a big part in ruining UK haulage operations. The French back the French, the Germans the Germans but unfortunately the UK lacks any nationalistic tendencies especially at the top. Our politicians and mandarins lie back and encourage "open" competition ensuring the rules are stacked against the UK operator. As always, Britain sticks to all the rules and bends over backwards to be fair— to others!
How many "streetwise" people work for the DOT? Do they understand the real world and the survival problems facing British hauliers? Maybe I'm being cynical but increasingly complex legislation and separate road tax collection means jobs for civil servants, so there is no chance of simplified legislation or procedures without tough ministerial pressure on the DOT Now there's an opportunity to reduce public sector spending.
Our nature in the UK is to generally stick to industry rules whether it is in transport or fishing—whatever the EC throws at us. We know that is not the case with some of our competitors elsewhere so why should we sit back wringing our hands and watch our excellent industry be disadvantaged?
What does it take to ram home to civil servants and ministers that real problems exist and that the anger and frustration now showing itself will eventually culminate in some sort of action to protect this industry? They must know that the UK would be paralysed if trucks stopped working. Perhaps this drastic action is not far away judging by the strength of feeling now being shown.
There is a lot wrong with the way the transport industry and many individuals in it are treated but to move away from sensible dialogue is a dangerous act. Perhaps the DOT and the minister concerned will seize the initiative, note the rising tide of anger and start to work with people out here before the day of reckoning arrives.
Trade associations should also be asking why so many operators do not join their ranks. Could it be the first-year joining costs are too high when the benefits of joining are questionable? They should have the confidence to offer a considerably rebated first year fee. If the association proves indispensable to the operator, they will not have trouble convincing them to rejoin.
It is important that all truck operators big or small join one of the industry trade associations and contribute to the association's policies and the lobbying of government. If the association is not representative of the membership, then change things. It is in our interest to have strong lobbying at the highest level.
Some operators believe trade associations do not change anything and, in fact, have a cosy relationship with the DOT This is probably wrong but something is amiss with trade associations that cannot attract a massive majority membership in such an important and over-regulated industry as ours.
Perhaps CM should conduct a survey to find out why operators are not joining the trade associations and what they think is wrong with them.
We must stop navel gazing and sort out the problem. The whole road freight industry would be stronger as a result and better equipped to represent our case.
0 If you want to sound off about a road transport issue write to features editor Patric Oman&