Road transport industry association IRU has called on governments across the world to help keep road transport supply chains and mobility networks moving, as coronavirus continues to spread.
IRU said that the most immediate concern for the road transport sector was to maintain supply chains, especially for essentials such as food and medical items, in the safest way possible for transport workers and citizens and respecting the latest relevant government guidelines.
IRU and its member network continue to monitor the situation in regions and across borders, advising transport companies on dealing with the pandemic and its impacts. It has implemented crisis and continuity plans, including preventive measures to protect staff.
"While the full scale of Covid-19 is not yet known, we can only assume that the outbreak will continue seriously impacting the global economy, trade and tourism in the coming weeks and months, and thus the road transport sector and the supply chains and mobility networks it supports," the group said. "Moving people and goods needs roads. The production and distribution of almost every good on the planet is dependent, at some point, on services provided by road transport operators."
On the basis of the significant fall in intercontinental container shipments, IRU has estimated a decline in global road transport activity of up to 20 per cent in 2020, depending on how long the situation continues. This could lead to a global loss in operator revenues of US$800bn.
Nearly 6 per cent of all people in employment worldwide work in road transport – largely in small and medium sized firms that, due to their size, cannot easily cope with external shocks such as the economic impacts of Covid-19.
To keep road transport networks functioning, IRU is calling on governments and authorities, as well as banks and financial institutions, to take a number temporary actions to help ease the burden of the crisis on operators. Visit the IRU website for a full list of recommendations.
IRU secretary general, Umberto de Pretto, said: “Keeping road transport supply chains and mobility networks open is crucial to helping us all cope with the Covid-19 pandemic in the comings weeks and beyond.”
He added: “To do this, we need to protect the workers and companies who are the backbone of road transport, and to keep transport links open wherever and as long as possible in affected areas so that essential goods and people can get to where they need to be.”