4 September 2023

Hey Minister, come for a ride in my truck and I'll show you how bad the PDR is

| Matt Nicholls
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Truck drivers are forced to the edge of the road or even the table drains to find the smoothest possible part of the road when traversing the PDR.

COME and sit with me in the cabin and you’ll see why the PDR needs more maintenance.

Those are the words of Cape York truck driver Gavan Roy, who has invited Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey to ride shotgun with him along the Peninsula Developmental Road.

“Maybe it doesn’t seem so bad driving the road in a LandCruiser, but try doing it in a truck,” said Mr Roy, who has been driving trucks since he could see over the steering wheel.

“We’ve got less dirt than ever before, but the dirt sections are as bad as they have ever been.

“The traffic on the PDR has increased a lot, but the maintenance on the road hasn’t kept up with the demand.”

There is less than 250km of dirt between Laura and Weipa, yet the quality of those sections is getting worse each year.

“Because more of it is sealed, more people are coming up here and that means more traffic on the dirt,” Mr Roy said.

“There just needs to be more money spent on maintaining those dirt sections.”

Mr Roy, 34, who helps run Rob Roy Earthmoving with his father, said the trucking industry copped it the worst when roads were in bad condition.

“You can probably drive at 100km/h on the corrugations in a brand new LandCruiser, but we have to go along at a crawl,” he said.

“It’s bad on the trucks – there is constant and ongoing costs to maintain them – and it takes a toll on the driver, too.

“Not just physically, but my mental health and mood is no good after driving along on these bad roads for long periods.”

More maintenance is needed on the dirt sections of the PDR.

Mr Roy said anyone doubting the claims made by him or other truck drivers should experience it for themselves.

“If the Minister or any politician wants to fly up I’ll happily put them in the truck and take them for a drive,” he said.

“They won’t want to do it again.”

A number of complaints have been made to the Queensland Trucking Association about the poor state of the PDR.

North Queensland representative Frances Schaefer said she had been in contact with TMR about the road, but had been given no firm answers on maintenance budgets or schedules.

“While corrugations on the PDR are fairly normal for this time of year, the road is under more pressure due to the yearly increases in road traffic and shortened dry season because of the longer than usual wet,” she said.

“The roads are just not standing up and the maintenance is just not adequate.

“We’re hoping the councils in the Cape see it as a priority issue ahead of the next state election.

“It will take a lot of support and a lot of people and organisations with the same voice to get any spending north of the Toowoomba range with the pending Olympic Games.”

When speaking to Cape York Weekly last month, Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said he would look into the budget for the maintenance of the PDR.

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