‘We are going broke’: Truckie fuel protest clogs West Gate Bridge

Melbourne-bound commuters were caught in a peak-hour traffic crawl on Wednesday after dozens of tip-truck drivers blocked lanes on the West Gate Bridge to protest the state government’s inaction on crippling diesel fuel prices.

The Department of Transport said about 70 tip trucks bound for Victoria’s Parliament House occupied four city-bound lanes on the bridge about 8.30am, leaving just a single lane for motorists to bypass the slow-moving convoy.

The truck drivers occupying four lanes along the West Gate Bridge.Credit:Nine News

Aerial images captured by Nine News showed the vehicles driving at a reduced speed on the bridge, as cars banked up behind.

Department spokesman Chris Miller urged drivers to avoid the West Gate Bridge before 11am and use Geelong Road and Footscray Road to get into the city.

“We’ve got queues back onto the [M80] Ring Road that go as far as Boundary Road and back out onto the Princess Freeway with queues back out to Laverton,” he said.

“The slow-moving traffic stretches for about 10 kilometres behind the actual protest.”

Miller said the delays had likely added an extra 15 or 20 minutes of travel time for morning commuters. The trucks were travelling at 35km/h, and by 11am had moved into the CBD, where their protest caused minor inconvenience for motorists on Flinders, Collins and Spring streets.

Victorian Tippers United treasurer Ricky Woolcock said the drivers were on their way to parliament to call for financial relief from rising operating costs.

Woolcock, who is driving one of the trucks leading the convoy, said drivers were “going broke” as a result of the soaring cost of diesel fuel and some were making as little as $60 profit per day.

He said truck owners were spending upwards of $2000 on fuel each week, about half of their operating costs, leaving them with limited funds to pay for the upkeep of their vehicles.

“We want everybody to be making a profit and having safe trucks being safe. We don’t need the extra stress,” he told 3AW.

Woolcook said the state government had committed to implementing a fuel levy to cover the rising costs of living three months ago but had failed to deliver on the promise.

“At the moment, they’ve fixed our rates, so we can’t gain any extra money back for the extra expenses,” he said. “We’re not asking for a pay rise, we’re just asking for the extra expenses to be covered at this point in time.”

A Victorian government spokesman said indicative rates for owner drivers, including minimum rates for tip-truck drivers on government projects, were increased in April.

The Transport Industry Council is currently reviewing the matter.

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