Dumfries and Galloway truck firms speak of Covid-19 challenges
Almost 100m tonnes of freight is carried in and out of Scotland each year on trucks.
This week, 10% of them lie empty and parked up - not because there isn't demand, but because there aren't any drivers, many of whom are testing negative for Covid-19 but are close contacts of those have tested positive.
Davie Carson, of John Miller Transport in Lockerbie, has welcomed changes to self-isolation rules which came into force this week in Scotland; anyone who tests positive must now isolate for seven days rather than 10.
He would though like it reduced even further.
The HGV sector has been impacted by both Brexit and the pandemic.
Schemes to try and bring drivers in from other countries were offered including one to bring 5,000 HGV drivers through an existing visa scheme to last until Christmas 2021 with the aim to ease supply chain pressures in food and haulage industries during exceptional circumstances this year.
Mr Carson said: "The European drivers, we feel, have not come back in any capacity at all, I do think we need to look further afield from Europe to entice foreign drivers to come into our industry within the UK."
For Scotland's lorry drivers the covid restrictions over the Christmas period have left many off the road and out of pocket
Richard McNicol, of WMB Heavy Haulage in Dumfries, said: "Effectively it is a fortnight to me, that's a fortnight's I am out of work.
Hauliers have told ITV news that the shortage of relief and agency drivers to cover the seven-day quarantines in January has encouraged some to quit the industry.
Richard McNicol, WMB Heavy Haulage in Dumfries, "You have to think of family, I have got two wee ones,I am away all week Monday to Friday every week so, so it's a sacrifice. There are better jobs out there, when you get paid the same type of money to stack shelves in a supermarket then it is not exactly a hard choice as such."
A further concern for Miller Transport is that more HGV drivers will leave the sector with an equivalent amount of money available doing van deliveries without the same restrictions.
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