Rising fuel prices driving hauliers ‘to the brink’

ROAD hauliers are being “pushed to the brink” because of the rising cost of motor fuel, according to the Irish Road Haulage Association.

Industry representatives claimed the price of diesel now constitutes more than 50% of business costs for haulage firms, compared to 35% to 40% in the past few years, as a result of recent increases in taxation and fuel.

The IRHA told the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment and Transport that the hauliers could be decimated over the failure of the Government to introduce a fuel rebate scheme as well as to tackle the problem of laundered diesel.

Such failures are costing the Exchequer an estimated €600m per annum in lost revenue because most hauliers engaged in overseas travel now bought their fuel abroad.

IRHA president Eoin Gavin said that the issue of rogue operators using illegally laundered diesel was also grossly distorting the market.

The IRHA also recommended reform of road tax so users would operate the pay-as-you-go system used in several other EU countries. The current system of charging motor tax for commercial vehicles on an unladen weight basis is also outdated and non-transparent.

“The IRHA firmly believe that the long-term viability and integrity of our industry can only be assured through a mix of implementation of an essential user fuel rebate, correct targeting of the carbon tax, eradication of illegal fuel and a revised road tax system for commercial vehicles,” said Mr Gavin.

IRHA secretary Gerry McMahon warned that hauliers were in danger of getting caught in a downward spiral over the pressure on them to absorb costs. “Their backs are now to the wall and they are at the end of their tether,” said Mr McMahon.

He expressed concern that hauliers were being penalised for “carrying someone’s goods from A to B” when the end user should be made pay the cost for transporting goods.

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