PEAK body Road Freight NSW says it is working with industry partners and other stakeholders on contingency plans to provide support to its members affected by the spread of coronavirus on the Australian transport sector.

RFNSW reports rapidly-diminishing container and air-freight volumes of Chinese imports, particularly manufactured consumer goods, have started to impact local supply chains.

“A growing number of truck operators are telling us their businesses are being severely pressured and disrupted by the flow-on effects that the Coronavirus is having on Australian trade and logistics,” RFNSW chief executive Simon O’Hara said.

“Mass freight cancellations from China have caused imports to dry-up and conversely, Chinese production plants are still in shut-down mode, limiting shipping of raw materials from Australia.”

Mr O’Hara said the knock-on effects of coronavirus had hit local transport operators hard – and this diminished level of trade was unsustainable, particularly for small, family-run businesses.

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“Looking ahead, even when Chinese manufacturers pick-up production again, and freight begins to flow again, there will be a two to three-month lag in the supply chain, given that ships typically spend several weeks at sea,” he said.

“Our members are already operating on incredibly tight margins and this downturn is a real threat to their viability.”

Mr O’Hara said RFNSW was working closely with their partner AI Group, fellow industry organisations and most importantly, our members, to mitigate this threat to local businesses.

“We’re also calling on banks and other lenders to show some understanding and patience with truck operators struggling with repayments during these tough times,” he said.

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