THE haulage industry in Ireland is "crying out for new drivers" according to a haulier who says the" huge shortage" in Ireland needs to be urgently addressed.
The situation which has led to a shortage of up to 6,000 HGV drivers nationally has been building for a few years, according to Chris Smith of Perennial Freight - and the only solution long-term is to grow the pool of Irish drivers.
Speaking to Damien Tiernan on Deise Today, Chris Smith from the Wexford-based transport company, said that there has been a serious exodos of non-Irish drivers to other parts of Europe.
Perennial Freight, he said, currently move about 40,000 truckloads per year out of Ireland into Europe and they are now looking to South Africa to fill the driver gap.
"We have 24/25 South African drivers with us now," he said. "And we're hoping to have seven or eight more in the coming weeks."
The South African drivers are a good fit here, he explained, as they speak English and drive on the same side of the road.
Perennial Freight are one of the largest transport companies in Ireland operating daily services throughout Ireland, UK and Europe using a modern fleet of equipment. They have offices in Ireland, the UK, France, with a fleet of over 700 trailers.
In the UK, a major shortage of up to 100,000 HGV drivers - brought about by Covid, Brexit and other factors - has been wreaking havoc on the supply of goods with some petrol stations closing because they can't access fuel.
Chris Smith told Deise Today that the problems exist right across Europe and we need "something to happen quickly" to sort it.
He said his company, like others in the transport business in Ireland, have goods to be delivered today - but no drivers to deliver them.
In the long term, he said, we need to grow our own driver pool here in Ireland and that will take some time.
Wages have improved in the driving business as had conditions, even though there is still some work to be done on the latter, he added.