Manufacturing decline has also sounded death knell for hauliers

Seamus Leheny, Freight Transport Association, Nick McCullough, Sainsburys Depot Manager in Belfast �and Gordon Clarke, Northern Ireland Director of Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity pictured at Sainsburys depot in Belfast.
Seamus Leheny, Freight Transport Association, Nick McCullough, Sainsburys Depot Manager in Belfast �and Gordon Clarke, Northern Ireland Director of Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity pictured at Sainsburys depot in Belfast.

The death of shirt factories and garment manufacturing, once the bedrock of employment and industry in Londonderry, has had the knock-on effect of killing hauliers across the North West, according to the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) head of policy in Northern Ireland.

Seamus Leheny says the collapse of textiles hit the small number of hauliers based in the North West hard, with Eglinton Fast Freight one of the casualties around a decade ago.

Seamus Leheny, Freight Transport Association.

Seamus Leheny, Freight Transport Association.

Mr Leheny made the observation after fourteen Londonderry manufacturing companies said the manufacturing and engineering sector has struggled in the North West since the death of textiles.

The firms warned that a lack of critical mass in engineering needed to be addressed.

Mr Leheny said: “FTA has over 330 members here in NI - we work with almost all of the haulage companies however there are only a handful of small family haulage companies left in the L’Derry area.

“The demise of manufacturing especially the textile industry meant many of the local transport companies lost their core business.

“An example is the once large Eglinton Fast Freight which was once one of the leading haulage companies in NI but went out of business around 10 years ago.”

He said most of the surviving hauliers in the Londonderry area are carrying their own goods around, not other people’s.

“Nearly all of our members and commercial vehicle operators in L’derry area are own account operators i.e. move their own goods (food, fuel, constructions etc)

“Ballymena, Belfast, Newry, Craigavon and Mid Ulster (Cookstown and Dungannon) is where almost all of the NI haulage companies are based and it is no coincidence that these are the locations where there is still manufacturing businesses. Haulage companies can only thrive when there are goods to move hence the disadvantage for L’Derry and NW in general is that there are very few exports to transport from the area.”