Supposedly a Chinese curse, but with little evidence that it originally came from China, the phrase, ‘may you live in interesting times’ comes around regularly.
However, at the moment there is probably a certain amount of fatigue in the Australian trucking industry, Australia as a whole, and the world generally, as we seem to lurch from panic to the next, with no let up in between.
Other sectors may struggle and go into panic mode as crisis after crisis hit, but the in-built resilience in the trucking industry will inevitably get the freight through and the job will be done. No matter how interesting the times are.
2019 could have been described as vaguely interesting, but that all changed in early 2020. The instant and bone jarring jolt of the arrival of the Covid pandemic was a distinct shock to the system.
Many people and industries struggled to cope and some just couldn’t cope. However, the strength of the trucking industry is that, even in the best of times, it has to be able to adapt to anything at any time.
Our industry is dealing with crises, big and small, on a daily basis. The imperatives placed on road transport all relate to getting the freight to the right location, at the right time and in the right condition.
This is a perilous endeavour at the best of times, but add in social distancing, border closures, constant testing and panic buying, and it becomes a massive task.
The attitude from the trucking industry is always that the job has to be done, so it will be done. There is a realisation on our part, even if the rest of society doesn’t recognise it, that trucking is a vital part of the economic fabric of any country and without us it becomes utter chaos.
So there we are in the trucking industry dealing with an ‘interesting’ period, when as that crisis eases another one, involving a war in Ukraine, an energy shortage, rising fuel prices and no government support, hits the industry and puts the whole system under further strain.
These are all relatively short term ‘interesting times’, we know it won’t last forever knuckle down and get the job done.
However, there are also some longer term ‘interesting times’ also hanging over the industry and exercising the minds of those who have to get things done.
The issue of climate change has been hanging around, largely ignored, for decades. Now, we are approaching the crunch time on this issue. The pressure to make massive changes in the way road transport works are building and likely to play out over the next few decades, at the end of which the trucking industry is likely to be unrecognisable.
We are going into this ‘interesting’ period with our hands tied behind our back. The trucking industry is now facing a skills shortage of crisis proportions, as it goes into a prolonged period of change.
We certainly are destined to be living through ‘interesting times’ in the coming years, but having worked in this industry since 1977, I can’t remember a time when the times weren’t ‘Interesting’.