16 Jul 2017

Truck drivers protest Picton parking ban

10:51 am on 16 July 2017

New guidelines designed to make it safer for truck drivers to change vehicles at the Picton ferry terminal have made it more dangerous, some drivers say.

A truck from Sinclair Transport, Winton.

A truck in Marlborough: Drivers are upset they are now having to walk longer, and pay more, for parking near the ferry terminal. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal.

KiwiRail says it has had to stop truck drivers parking their own cars in an area near the terminal for health and safety reasons, but the drivers do not agree.

The Road Transport Association says it is also likely to add more costs to companies, as drivers are now having to use paid parking areas.

One South Island driver said he was among many others increasingly upset by a growing mountain of red tape making their already hard-pushed schedules even tougher.

"It's just nonsense. This health and safety thing is just way over... it's just too far over the top. It's rubbish, mate, you know."

The driver, who asked for his name not to be used, explained that drivers would arrive at the terminal in their own vehicles to collect trucks coming off the ferry. They would then head off to deliver goods around the South Island.

But the new rules introduced on 3 July meant that had all changed.

Cars and trucks arriving on the ferry from Wellington to Picton (file photo)

Drivers usually need to arrive in - and leave - their own cars in Picton to pick up trucks shipped from Wellington. Photo: 123RF

"Normally we had a place to park our car but now we're not allowed to park there at all. The way I see it, it's a health and safety issue again, because we've still got to walk past where they bring the trucks out off the boat and park them up, so we're basically still a hazard."

The driver said he now parked in a nearby residential street and walked half a kilometre to the exchange area.

KiwiRail said truck drivers had historically parked personal vehicles in a designated area at the Picton terminal.

The government's recent health and safety legislation was among the reasons for the change, a spokesperson said.

"KiwiRail takes safety very seriously, and we became concerned health and safety was not protected at the site.

"A recent increase in people parking in the area and increased development work taking place at the site, as well as the new health and safety legislation, has highlighted that this arrangement is no longer acceptable."]

The driver said he would not pay the $40 a week it now cost to park in the public area until he got a commitment from his employer he would be reimbursed.

Road Transport Association Marlborough chairman Peter Heagney said it was bound to lead to increased costs and tighter margins for freight operators.

"Someone will be paying. It becomes more costly for everyone to do their business and if the port's there for people to go and meet traffic, they should have facilities there for that."

A Port Marlborough spokesperson said they had received a sudden wave of requests for parking at the terminal.

Mr Heagney said tighter health and safety regulations were having an impact right through the freight supply network. That meant higher prices for all goods, including food.

"We've got health and safety coming along and making new rules, when there wasn't a problem there previously, and all it tends to do is make it harder and more expensive for people to try and do their business," Mr Heagney said.

WorkSafe New Zealand said the Health and Safety at Work Act was not prescriptive, but gave businesses the freedom to manage risks in the way that worked best for them.

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