independent

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Wexford hauliers plan for worst-case Brexit scenario

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Verona Murphy, President of the Irish Road Haulage Association. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Verona Murphy, President of the Irish Road Haulage Association. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Few businesswomen are as familiar with the pressures of Brexit as Verona Murphy.

Verona runs her haulage business Drumur Transport from her base at Ramsgrange, New Ross.

Employing 10 drivers, her company transports meat and other fresh food products between Ireland and continental Europe.

She has recently risen to national prominence as President of the Irish Road Haulage Association.

She also sits on a development group for Rosslare Europort, aimed at encouraging investment in the port.

Her preferred direct route for shipping to the Continent is from Rosslare to Cherbourg.

"Realistically, Brexit is an issue for hauliers at every port including Rosslare, because we expect to be held up.

"There will be backlogs, because our ports have developed without borders and customs.

"We don't know what to expect with Brexit, because we don't know if it is going to be hard or soft and whether delays will be long or short.

"Nonetheless, we have to plan for the worst case scenario, and hope for the best."

Verona Murphy says transport businesses should benefit under the Government's priority efforts to support and equip SMEs for the challenges of Brexit.

These measures were included in the Project Ireland 2040 report.

They include programmes to improve competitiveness and innovation performance, and to diversify trade from the UK to new markets.

A €300m loan fund is also open to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, nation-wide, which are exposed to the impact of Brexit.

"This should enable our members to access cheap money at lower rates than financial institutions would offer," says Verona Murphy.

Project Ireland 2040 also promises a further upgrade of the N11/M11 road to Rosslare Europort.

One of 11 children from a farming family at Ramsgrange, Verona left school at the age of 16, and worked for the Vauxhall motor company in England for a time.

She returned to Wexford and set up her haulage business at the age of 21. She has transported meat between Ireland and Italy for meat giant Kepak.

For Murphy and her clients, time is of the essence - and that is why the possible delays caused by Brexit are a concern.

Many of her trucks, she said, carry a pre-packed product that needs to go straight to the supermarket shelf.

"It's a time-sensitive, date- sensitive product," she says.

Travelling across the UK is currently faster than going direct to France on a 17-hour sailing. A truck can cross the UK and be in France within 12 hours.

"Fish is carried on ice. It's carried as a fresh product, so there's no vacuum pack," she says. "You've got shellfish that are carried in tanks and water, pernickety stuff that needs to be monitored. They can't be carried on direct ferry.

"If anything was to go wrong, the driver can't access the container for the 17-hour crossing so he has to minimise the time he's away from the container. There's a huge quantity of that leaving Ireland. Probably about 100 loads a week from ports around Ireland."

For more information on Project Ireland 2040 visit the official website 

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