Written Answers. - Road Haulage Industry.
Minister for Public Enterprise
the reason for the change in regulations governing haulage licences whereby only the applicant or applicant's spouse must be nominated for the position of transport manager if the transport manager nominated is otherwise employed; if she will revert this decision to the original situation in view of the difficulties being experienced by a number of transport companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The review of the road haulage industry entitled A Strategy for the Successful Development of the Irish Road Haulage Industry, published in April 1999, recommended that there should be a more strict application of the road haulage licensing regime. In particular it recommended that my Department should ensure that the requirement of professional competence is strictly enforced and that the transport manager should be involved in the day to day management of the haulage business.
EU Directive 96/26/EC sets out the criteria for professional competence. This states that where a transport manager is nominated he/she must be engaged to continuously and effectively manage a road haulage operation. The European Communities (Merchandise Road Transport) Regulations, 1991, implement this requirement for Irish road hauliers However, over the years, a situation evolved whereby persons who held a certificate of professional competence, but who were not directly involved in the business, were accepted as transport managers.
Following publication of the review of the industry an implementation group was set up to oversee the implementation of its recommendations. This group comprises representatives of the road haulage division of my Department, IBEC and the Irish Road Haulage Association.
A new policy governing the designation of transport managers was devised by the road haulage division. In devising this policy particular attention was paid to ensuring that a person nominated as a transport manager continuously and effectively manages the business. The new policy states that in order to comply with the requirement of professional competence an operator must hold a certificate of competence.
If the operator does not hold this qualification then a transport manager must be employed to manage the business. A person nominated as transport manager cannot hold employment outside the transport business. An exception to this policy is where the spouse/partner of an applicant is nominated as transport manager. In such circumstances the spouse/partner can be in full time employment outside the transport business. This exception is allowed because it is recognised that a spouse/partner would have a direct interest in managing the business.
One of the main findings in the report of the consultants is that many small firms lack adequate market information, do not have a business plan and appear to do little planning for long-term stability. In this context it is essential that haulage operators themselves possess the necessary professional competence as prescribed by law, or failing this, that they employ a transport manager to continuously and effectively manage their business.
This new policy was discussed by the implementation group who agreed with its implementation. The IRHA in particular was keen to have this new policy adopted in order to address the problem of "phantom managers" in the industry and to raise professional standards. The revised policy was put in place on 11 November 1999. The revised policy on transport managers applies only to new entrants to the road haulage industry. Existing licence holders are not affected by the change.
I am strongly committed to implementing in full the recommendations contained in the review of the road haulage industry and I consider that the revised policy on transport managers is an essential ingredient of that process. My aim is to develop a strong and vibrant Irish haulage indus try which will have the ability to compete successfully in a very demanding market.