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shortage of truck drivers in Victoria

350,000 trucks are expected to cause issues around the city during the West Gate Tunnel’s construction. Courtesy: Ian Currie

Victoria faces a shortage of people to drive trucks during the building of its major infrastructure projects, the trucking industry says.

The Victorian Transport Association said parts of the industry had been suffering from low driver numbers for a long time, and more young people were needed.

VTA CEO Peter Anderson said: “It isn’t a sexy industry, and one reason why is because it doesn’t enunciate a career path, despite providing a good livelihood for many people.

“We continue to beg people to come and work for us.”

At the height of the excavation of the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel a truck is due to leave the Footscray construction site every two minutes.

Mr Anderson said meeting this demand would be difficult.

“For that project alone, you’re looking at an additional 125 truck drivers, and we don’t have those currently around waiting for work,” he said.

“We’re building high-rise towers, subdivisions, housing estates and commercial areas that are all taking the normal fleet of tip trucks to do the job.

“All of the upcoming major projects, including the North East Link and Metro Tunnel, are major earthmoving projects that require a great deal of resources.

“You could see operators pulling drivers off other projects to meet their contractual requirements.”

It is expected that more than 350,000 trucks a year will clog the streets in and around the CBD during the construction of the West Gate Tunnel and Metro Tunnel.

Mr Anderson said a new taskforce, set up by the Andrews, Government, would investigate the heavy licensing system and could help encourage more drivers in Victoria.

“We hope to bring it into a more robust, accountable and transparent system than what it is now,” he said.

“At the moment you need 120 hours to get a car licences, but there are no prescribed hours behind the wheel for heavy vehicles.”

The Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, said the State Government’s unprecedented program of projects were putting pressure on resources and suppliers.

“That’s why we’re investing in driver training and conducting a major review that will look at how we can attract more young people into the trucking industry,” he said.