Several haulage and transport companies across County Longford are reaching “crisis point” with many struggling to make ends meet because of soaring fuel prices, a Leader investigation has found.
Many industry representatives, some of whom, have been involved in the industry for almost three decades claimed the current impasse has left the industry facing an uncertain future.
Some of those contacted by this newspaper over the past seven days went even further, bemoaning how escalating prices meant diesel was now commanding more than 50 per cent of day to day business costs for struggling operators.
It comes as recent figures confirmed the average cost of diesel had surpasses €1.60 in certain locations, representing an annual increase of 11.5 per cent over the past 12 months.
Pat Donnelly, of Donnelly’s Coaches in Granard, said the present controversy was the worst he has witnessed in his 23 year-long association with the industry.
“I have never seen anything like it, it’s just ridiculous at the moment,” he said earlier this week. “We get a text alert every two or three days and it just seems to be going up, up, up the whole time.
“There is no reasoning for it; it just seems to be down to speculators. I am just after pricing a person. The difference between the small and big bus is €100. It’s crazy.”
Other experts blamed the loss of a fuel tax rebate in 2008 on the worsening dilemma. Stephen Kane, from Kane’s Coaches in Longford town said the removal of the rebate has already hit home.
“The whole thing is at crisis point,” he said, remarking how the present uncertainty was “without doubt” the most arduous he has experienced in over 26 years.
“We used to get a revenue rebate that was put on fuel which would mean we would have been refunded 35c per litre, but we lost that in the summer of 2008.
“In 2010, we were paying €1.27 per litre, in 2011 it was €1.44 and now it’s €1.60 per litre. When you consider everything it’s nearly a 100 per cent rise in fuel price.”
One local bus operator who did not wish to be named said they were now assessing matters on a “week to week basis”, a view which was endorsed by other haulage firms.
“Haulage companies can’t take any more, it’s as simple as that,” said a staff member from Pat Corrigan Transport. “At least with the ESB you get notiification (about increase) but with this (fuel) you don’t get any. Every week it is going up.”