The National, Thursday October 24th, 2013
THE trucking business in Lae is spending millions of kina in unnecessary expenses as a result of atrocious roads and road blocks along the Highlands Highway, the owner of Michaels and Michaels Freight company said.
Michael Ekri, whose Lae-based company hauled cargo during the early stage of the liquefied natural gas project five years ago, said.
“A lot of our drivers go through this daily ordeal along the highway …. not just mine, but also those of Mapai Transport, Traisa and KT … we cough up money every day for every truck driver … we got to pay those thugs who are taking advantage of motorists along the highway,” he said.
Ekri said his company spent 25% of their budget on unnecessary expenses such as roadblocks “toll”.
“Our fuel was being stolen or looted, 40% of our cost went on repair and maintenance of our trucks due to bad roads.
“So it’s 65% in losses from bad roads and hooligans … now, we try to run our business on the remaining 35%, and that is no way to run a business or call it business,” Ekri said.
“For my company, I gave my drivers K300 to K500 each so they could pay people K50 or K100 at every road block along the highway … that was separate from their allowances and pay received every trip,” he said.
“If we don’t come across, our drivers would not be able to reach their destinations, they would never come back.”
Ekri said thousands of highway incidents were not being reported as it was pointless doing so because authorities took no actions against the culprits.
“As a transport operator, I am appealing to the government … we have suffered enough … we need a bigger and better highway … we are spending big money on repair and maintenance of our vehicles.”
“I feel sorry for myself and my colleagues …while we call ourselves transport operators, I don’t know how many transport companies around the world operate the way we do because from every kina we make, we have to spend on new tyres twice a month, and our fuel is being stolen almost every day.