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Truckies call for calm amid panic buying crisis

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Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) is calling on the public to stop ‘panic buying’ basic, everyday food and grocery items in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, which is rapidly stripping stock from supermarket shelves and placing further pressure on overwhelmed truck operators.

RFNSW Chief Executive Simon O’Hara said the constant, unnecessary rush on goods was creating massive ‘choke points’ across local supply chains, with supermarkets struggling to restock their shelves.

“Supermarkets and Distribution Centres (DC) have now become the major bottlenecks for truck operators. What used to take 35-50 minutes (and 90 minutes for a B-double) at a DC to load a truck for a supermarket delivery, is now taking up to five-six hours,” Mr O’Hara explained.

“And given that most supermarket bays can handle, one, or at most, two trucks at a time, it’s causing lengthy build-ups for deliveries. Truckies are telling us they’re being delayed for days or even up a week at a time.

“We understand that people are worried and anxious, but we’re asking for calm. Essentials are at a premium, so people should only buy what they need plus a little more. They must stop panic buying, otherwise our critical supply chains will stay choked, with limited supplies making it on to the shelves. As the big supermarkets have stressed again today, the current product shortages are due to the massive increase in demand, not a shortfall in supply.”

Mr O’Hara said RFNSW is supporting calls for freight and ports to be declared critical infrastructure to ensure the continuity of essential services and products, especially pharmaceuticals, into the community and says the easing of supermarket curfews amongst other initiatives, would allow truck operators to deliver additional loads to supermarkets. Curfews have already been lifted in Queensland and should be adopted in NSW.

“Truckies are doing the best they can under these very difficult and stressful circumstances,” he said.

“We can all play a part in supporting our truckies and making sure they can do their job and safely deliver food and grocery items to the supermarkets without impediments.”