Truck Drivers Protest

Truck drivers plan to protest against the sudden increase in road user charges. They are so angry that they plan to drive into New Zealand cities and towns during rush hour in the morning, and cause a traffic jam. Thousands of trucks will enter Auckland city from all the motorways. Police suggested that people catching planes should stay overnight at a hotel near the airport. The police also suggested that people who don’t need to go to work, should stay at home.

The truck drivers are very angry because the government increased road user charges suddenly, without giving them a warning. The Minister of Transport, Annette King, said that the last time the government increased road user charges, they gave truck drivers one month’s warning, and truck and coach companies bought $17.5 million worth of road user licences before the new price started. Road user charges have to be paid in advance. Drivers or companies buy road user licences for 1,000km at a time.

Drivers of vehicles that use petrol don’t have to pay a separate road user tax because it is included in the price of the petrol. However, diesel does not have this tax included so cars, vans, trucks, buses and coaches that run on diesel have to pay road user charges.

Annette King said that people who use petrol in their cars, have to pay increases immediately without any warning so it is fair that those who use diesel and electricity to run their vehicles should also pay increases immediately. She also said it is fair that trucks and tourist coaches should pay towards the cost of repairing roads and building new roads.

Truck drivers, however, say that they are having a hard time already with increases in fuel. This new increase is up to an extra $48 for 1,000 km depending on the size of the truck. They say that the consumers will have to pay more for goods that are carried by truck. Tourist coach companies also say that this increase will be hard on them because they advertise their prices overseas two years in advance.

Annette King said that this is only the second increase in road user charges in 19 years.

Overseas, in many countries like Britain, truck drivers are protesting about the increase in fuel prices. They too are causing traffic jams.

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