Friday, January 14, 2011

Disaster Rains Down On Freight Truckers And Shipping Fleets Alike

Tales of Heroism, Common Sense and Woe as Flooding Continues
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA –BRAZIL – SRI LANKA - PHILIPPINES - The continuing bad weather across much of the globe continued unabated this week disrupting supply chains and throwing freight and logistics movements into complete confusion. Along with the disasters and rising death tolls in Brazil (around 1000 so far reported),Sri Lanka (26 to date), Philippines (42 confirmed) and Australia (at least 34 dead with dozens more still missing)comes the forbidding prospect of what the short term future holds.

Australia seems best equipped to deal with the aftermath of the disaster with clean up operations under way in many areas. As we reported previously damage to the country’s economy is predicted to reach around A$5 billion and the confused state surrounding the export of coal and indeed other items, will impact on shipping companies and rail freight carriers for some time to come.

In Sri Lanka the military have been deployed to manage the logistics effort required to bring aid to the formerly Tamil controlled areas in the East of the country which have been hardest hit. The prognosis is poor as the rice crop, along with other food crops, has been devastated by the inundation of over 200,000 acres in an area where food shortages had already been predicted for many neighbouring countries.

A similar story exists in Brazil with food shortages likely for the coming months, but here the immediate infrastructure damage is even worse. Despite the fact that the country is used to heavy rains at this time of year, always bringing hardship to the poorer areas, this year the death toll is almost unprecedented. Giant mudslides have drowned several hundred people in the Favela shanty towns around Rio and in remote mountainous areas and authorities are struggling to reach many of the outlying communities as roads and trucks have literally been washed away cutting off many from vital supplies and making some areas inaccessible except by foot or helicopter.

The Philippines has seen weeks of monsoon conditions displace around half a million people, once again devastating crops in some areas with mudslides inundating communities and surrounding farmland.

As one would expect Australia has been able to report more fully on the devastation and our photograph shows the ingenuity, and heroism, shown by one trucker as he drives into the waters to get a load restraining strap around a woman stranded on the roof of her car. Anyone witnessing such acts of heroism is asked to let the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) know as they are joining together with Continental Tyres Australia and presenting a new award for bravery as part of this year’s National Trucking Industry Awards.

There is financial help available to small businesses affected by the Australian disaster from both the national Government and state authorities in Queensland and New South Wales and this includes truck and transport operators who have suffered. The ATA have prepared an excellent fact sheet which can be downloaded HERE.

Hauliers registered under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) may be able to undertake interstate delivery activities during the current state of emergency. The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) has taken the decision to grant permission for all FIRS registered vehicles to undertake both pick-up and delivery in Queensland up to and including 31 January when the situation will be reviewed.

The ATA also tell us that the Tax authorities are taking a realistic attitude with regard to companies affected by the situation with firms due to lodge December Business Activity Statements on the 21st January being allowed a month’s grace.

The situation in the other countries affected by the weather is likely to be less organised and even more confused given the geography and cultural differences. What is certain is that the weather being seen across the world at present, and the consequences particularly with regard to production and transportation of food and vital supplies, is likely to remain in the memory for many years to come.

Photo Copyright Kingbob86 (via Wikimedia Commons).