Bad condition of Tanami Road costs trucking companies “several thousand dollars a week”
Stretching over 1,000 kilometers of red earth through the heart of the country, the Tanami Road has linked Alice Springs to Halls Creek in Western Australia for decades.
- Tanami road deteriorated to become “almost impassable”
- Trucking companies lose thousands of dollars a week
- Territorial government says there is not enough funding
Today, the famous Oxen Route is a worn tapestry of what it once was and is considered nearly impossible to drive, costing trucking companies thousands of dollars in damage every week.
Bruce Stanes is a driver for Stanes Transport, delivering goods and services to mines, ranching stations and indigenous communities along the way.
He says his recent trips have lasted twice as long as they should, due to poor road conditions.
“Almost every week something falls, bolts break and suspensions,” said Mr Stanes.
It is not just the trucking companies that are bearing the brunt of the damage caused by the famous track.
Mount Denison is a breeding station 326 km from Alice Springs. Cattle trucks use the government access road that connects the Tanami to the Stuart Highway to transport their stock to the market.
Robert Martin lives and works on Mount Denison. He said the same road was the access point to most of the water wells on his property and was in need of serious repair.
For families and pastoral farms, like those of the Martin family, there is a lot of paperwork to make their route to a passable level.
“We have the machines and the skills to do it, but because it’s a government road, we’re not allowed to touch it,” Martin said.
Getting a grader out to work on the road is a long process.
“You have to wait for a road inspector to inspect the road and then wait for a grader to come out, which can take up to 8 months at that time. [have] changed, ”Martin said.
What’s in the bank?
Northern Territory Minister of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Eva Lawler said she was aware of the condition of the road, but highlighted lack of funding as the main driver for improvements limited road northwest of Yuendumu.
“The federal government has allocated $ 200 million over 10 years to asphalt the Tanami, but we know that is not enough,” Lawler said.
Of the $ 200 million committed for the Tanami Highway, the federal government will contribute 80%, with the Government of the Northern Territory covering the rest.
Federal government told ABC Rural that the funding was part of a $ 2.95 billion commitment made in 2013 for transportation infrastructure in the Northern Territory.
“We need the federal government to be at the table or else the roads in the territory will not be paved,” Lawler said.
Driver’s health is a concern
Despite the Northern Territory government’s promise to seal an additional 60 km after Yuendumu, Mr Stanes said he was concerned for the health of his drivers in the long term.
“I can’t imagine you coming here and not being affected afterwards… slow speeds and rough roads, that should have some effect on the drivers. I’m sure it does.”