Trucking: Vital supply chain partner
To the average consumer, food, clothing, gadgets, furniture and other products seem to appear on store shelves almost magically; shiny, new and ready to occupy a different space in the home or office of their happy owners.
However, unlike in the stories where the wizard dramatically waves his wand and something suddenly appears in a puff of smoke, each product gets delivered through an integrated supply chain that requires a high degree of collaboration.
A very critical component of this chain is road freight, or the haulage sector, which moves goods from airports and seaports to their final destinations. Arguably, if their vital service stopped rolling, the industries that rely on them would grind to a halt.
Large and small businesses depend heavily on the men and women in the industry to move cargo day and night to ensure that the shelves and storefronts on which you rely remain stocked.
Fuelled by globalisation and a spirit of competitiveness, the shipping and aviation industries created modular systems to pack and transport cargoes. At the centre of these is the sea container, which facilitates the rapid loading and unloading of cargo from ships. This system forever changed the trucking sector by making it possible for hauliers to make more frequent trips with minimum time lost in port.
In Jamaica, our transport infrastructure relies on timely movements and efficiency from the sector to support the import and export process, which is the lifeblood of the country. This reliance becomes even more urgent during times of crisis, such as in the current global health pandemic or during instances of recovery from natural disasters.
General manager of the Port Trailer Haulage Association (PTHA), Ricardo Valentine, said that every aspect of the supply chain must be treated with the same amount of importance. He noted that “haulage satisfies the demand that is being made by people’s need to consume goods and services they do not produce themselves. It therefore becomes crucial for the industry to remain buoyant, as it is the only means of moving cargo throughout our island”.
TIED TO TRANSPORTATION
Valentine continued, “Our lives are totally tied to transportation. It is what allows us to offer goods and services to other people locally, regionally, and overseas. The mobility needed in any economy cannot be sustained if you are unable to satisfy that basic need for production, which is in transportation services.”
The PTHA has served as the gatekeepers of Jamaica’s port-related trucking industry for 39 years. The association has established itself as the representative voice for its 92 members in negotiations with key stakeholders in the maritime sector.
While commenting on the time dedicated by truckers to the overall freight-moving process, Valentine highlighted that there was a general lack of appreciation for the essential work being done by truckers.
“I think more needs to be done in terms of educating the public on the vital role our members play. Trucking is as vital as water to our economy. Many persons do not realise that we are involved in so many areas, for instance, in the entertainment industry. We assist band members and artistes in moving their equipment for shows and concerts. I believe it is important for our sector to be given support by industry interests and by the Government.”