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It’s a trucking problem

The line-up of truck outside VTNZ Masterton on Wednesday. PHOTOS/JOHN LAZO-RON

Contractor says the truck situation is ‘just not good enough’

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A nationwide shortage of heavy vehicle inspectors has taken a huge toll on Masterton’s VTNZ station which is experiencing greater demand for service over the summer holiday period.

Heavy vehicles backlogged all the way on to Ngaumutawa Rd have become a regular scene at the under-staffed station with some having to wait until the next day be tested for a Certificate of Fitness with trucks even being parked overnight.

Certificate of Fitness is the equivalent of a Warrant of Fitness for heavier vehicles.

VTNZ area manager Andrew Ashton said he was well aware of the delays and was in the process of fixing the problem, although not being able to recruit internationally was causing headaches.

“VTNZ is aware of the wait times for Certificate of Fitness inspections in Masterton due to a shortage of inspectors,” Ashton said.

“New Zealand is also experiencing a nationwide skills shortage of heavy vehicle mechanics, where our pool of inspectors predominantly come from.

“VTNZ is discussing the wait time issue in Masterton with relevant industry groups, given the industry is facing skills shortages and unable to recruit internationally.

“The Masterton branch has also been experiencing greater demand than usual over the summer holiday period, and we are working to get through as many inspections as possible, while working around the statutory holidays.

“We are actively working to resolve this to continue providing high-quality COF inspections in the Wairarapa region.”

Despite the delays, Ashton said VTNZ would not rush the testing process just to meet customer demand with safety being the highest priority.

Nick Dench, of Dingo Nick Wairarapa.

However, despite the genuine reasons for the delays, Masterton landscaping contractor Nick Dench wasn’t having a bar of it, telling the Times-Age the deal wasn’t good enough.

“For several months now, it has been extremely difficult to get a COF,” Dench said.

“It’s just annoying because people are complaining but nothing seems to be done and no one is telling anybody anything. I actually wonder whether NZTA know what’s going on.

“We’re a primary industry region, so there’s a lot of trucks going through Wairarapa. It’s just not good enough. VTNZ are not meeting customer needs.”

Dench said the long waiting times were not only hurting his business, but businesses all round.

“It trickles right down the line.”

“It takes the trucks and the driver off the road for hours and hours on end. It doesn’t allow companies to plan their days or workers shifts, it’s just completely frustrating and inadequate.

“Not only does it impact you financially, it means you can’t get on with the job. Therefore, people have to wait and there is delay after delay and it affects other people down the track.”

Dench said he had resorted to taking his trucks to Palmerston North to get COFs with the VINZ testing station there having a booking system in place which meant he could take in his trucks at an allocated time with no fuss; and that it had also become the norm for other Wairarapa truck companies.

“It’s not unusual,” Dench said.

“I know quite a few people who have gone over to Palmerston North to get a COF. Having that booking system makes a big difference.”

Dench said VTNZ Masterton needed to abandon their first-in-first-served structure and replace it with a booking system and have longer opening hours. But what was really needed to cease demand was another testing station.

“Why don’t they extend the hours and maximise their service,” Dench said.

“Why aren’t they open till 10pm at night? Why aren’t they open on Saturdays for trucks?

“They definitely need another operator in the region and until they do so, the problems are just going to remain.”

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