Justin's Transport Minute

Weekly update from NRC CEO Justin Tighe Umbers

Justin's Transport Minute

Yesterday I had the privilege of presenting at the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders (CBAFF) conference in Wellington, along with NRC board member Pamela Bonney.

CBAFF members are an integral part of the transport ecosystem, with importers, exporters and ports all in the room, so it was great to be able to talk to them about the road freight sector. Many thanks to CEO Rosemarie Dawson for the invitation.

I gave a bird’s eye view of the challenges faced by the road freight operators right now. Externally there’s the failing road network and a major economic slowdown. These are obvious. But the tightening commercial squeeze being felt by transport operators is less so. Cashflows are strained as costs go up (diesel, insurance, maintenance and port levies among others) while customers don’t want to pay more for cartage.

But there are silver linings. The reason to be optimistic is that we are now starting to see sensible policies emerge. The recent Freight and Supply Chain Strategy has productivity and efficiency front and centre as a pillar. This is a major step forward, when it felt like they were all but forgotten in the rush to address climate change.

All of the major parties now have transport policies focussed on prioritising road maintenance, and critical new build projects. The tide is turning, but it is a slow burn.

Pamela finished her presentation with an ask for everyone in the room – take the time to understand the challenges faced by transport operators when they are completing their consignment.

The reason they may be late in fulfilling an order is because one or more of the steps in the complex container chain has stalled. There’s nothing easy about importing or exporting freight – to borrow a well-used analogy, it requires all of the holes in the Swiss cheese to line up. For it to work, every participant up and down the chain has to work constructively together to achieve the common goal – the efficient delivery of the goods.

That means each person taking ownership of the total outcome, not just their own part of the puzzle.

I thought that was a great note to finish on - a little bit of understanding and encouragement of the person next to us in the pipeline goes a long way, give it a try and see what happens.

Have a great weekend.


Justin Tighe-Umbers

CEO | National Road Carriers Assn

DDI: +64 9 636 2951