Driver shortage sees slow rubbish collection in Wellington

Imogen Wells
Source: 1News

Residents in the capital are being asked to be “patient” as the council’s rubbish collection contractors face driver shortages.

Over the last few weeks, trash pick-ups in some Wellington suburbs have been delayed by at least a day.

“We’re short on drivers at the moment,” Emily Taylor-Hall said, who heads Wellington City Council’s waste operations.

“They’re just not quite getting to the end of their collections run at the end of the day. So they start again the next day and try to sweep through those areas they missed,” she said.

In a tweet on Monday afternoon the council said the nationwide truck driver shortage is to blame.

Taylor-Hall also said the increased number of people working from home means there’s more trash to pick up and more cars parked on residential roads during the day, which makes it harder for drivers to get to the rubbish.

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand’s Chief Executive told 1News the rubbish driver problem is another symptom of the nationwide shortage.

“When you see reductions to service, that’s definitely a concern. New Zealand has been short of drivers for probably 20 years, it’s now really baked in to the industry.”

Nick Leggett pointed to the country’s closed borders as the reason behind the shortage.

“[If] we’re not bringing in migrant labour to the degree we were, or any degree, you are going to see what was a pressure become an acute pressure.”

Online job vacancies for truck drivers also highlight how big the issue is.

A search for “truck driver” on TradeMe’s job site turns up more than 1500 advertisements.

Seek has around 1000 jobs available if you search the same phrase.

“Every roster in the trucking industry is under pressure at this point,” Leggett said.

Wellington City Council is confident its rubbish pick-up delays won’t last long, but are asking locals to be patient with the drivers that are on the road collecting trash.

“They’re doing a fantastic job. They’re working really long hours, they want to do a good job and they want to finish their day,” Taylor-Hall said.