Trailer Magazine

Transport industry steps up for Victorian bushfire victims

  • Posted on Wednesday 29th, July 2020.

When Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) Chief Executive Officer, Tim Vancampen, arrived in Melbourne in December 2019 to take over the management of VICT, he was confronted with the devastation caused by some of the fiercest bushfires Australia has ever seen.

With the support and encouragement of Manila, Philippines based International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) President, Enrique K Razon, Vancampen was moved to seek the expert opinions of two recently appointed Non-Executive Directors to the Board of VICT – Philip Lovel AM and Tony Cousins – as to what he could do to help the victims.

Both advised Vancampen to wait until all the fires were out and the true community needs were identified. There was a lot of immediate government and community support, but it was the long-term needs that were important, according to Lovel and Cousins.

It was agreed to support the fire victims with empty shipping containers placed at their burnt-out sites so they could re-establish their properties and have their equipment and ‘saved’ belongings stored safely and securely on site.

Following discussions, a considerable amount of funding was organised to purchase 42 empty containers and deliver them to the different areas affected by the fires.

With the full support of the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) lead by CEO Peter Anderson, 21 affected residents were identified and contacted to receive a shipping container.

Anderson scouted all of the sites and locations over many weeks. This was not an easy task as the fire locations were at least 450km from Melbourne and the individual sites often many kilometres from the main highways.

He also put a call out to the transport industry through his member transport companies and received an overwhelmingly positive response. The companies provided their services free of charge and paid their drivers’ wages and accommodation expenses where needed.

“We would like to acknowledge the following Transport companies who provided the trucks, side loaders and tilt trays for the weekend,” said Lovel

  • DSN Transport
  • Cahills Transport
  • Freestones Transport
  • Secon Logistics
  • Nationwide Towing
  • Buchan Towing
  • Tasman Logistics

“A big thank you also to VTA CEO Peter Anderson and VTA Industry Services Manager, Greg Cain, for all their hard work in organising and directing the logistics of the deliveries,” said Lovel.

On Saturday and Sunday 20 and 21 June the trucks rolled into Cann River and Mallacoota after an eight-hour drive from the Port of Melbourne. The linehaul was done by B-doubles and a couple of semi-trailers, with two side lifters utilised at Cann River and Mallacoota to transfer the containers to the tilt trays.

The tilt trays were then dispatched from both locations to deliver to the individual farms and town sites, with the entire operation professionally coordinated by Anderson and Cain.

All deliveries were completed by late Sunday night in poor light and drizzling rain conditions.

“It was a very emotional time – nearly every fire victim and recipient cried and acknowledged the support we were giving them as we arrived,” said Lovel.

“They all thanked VICT and the VTA for helping them. Some residents interviewed said they had never heard of VICT or Tim Vancampen, but wanted us to pass on their thanks.”

Lovel added that the operation was a team effort by the VTA, the transport industry, VICT and the container suppliers, and he expressed his sincere gratitude to each of the organisations for their selfless contributions.

A further 21 containers were delivered in July to burnt out sites in north eastern Victoria.

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