The Government is extending the €100 a week subsidy for lorry drivers struggling with rising fuel prices until June 6th as about 900 licensed hauliers have yet to apply for the scheme.
The temporary measure, lasting eight weeks initially and costing €18 million, was introduced in March to support the haulage industry as surging fuel costs strained supply chains.
Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton, who has responsibility for haulage and logistics, said that almost 3,000 operators had so far benefited from the scheme, but an estimated 900 licensed operators had not sought the subsidy.
She said her department would write to each operator at their registered addresses to give them a final opportunity to apply, with the closing date for applications extended to June 6th.
“The haulage sector has shown incredible resilience throughout the unprecedented challenges presented by Brexit and Covid-19 in recent years, ensuring that the shelves in our supermarkets and pharmacies do not run empty.”
The subsidy is open to every heavy goods vehicle (HGV) weighing more than 3½ tonnes. The Government previously cut excise duty, reducing the price of a litre of diesel by 15 cent and a litre of petrol by 20 cent to ease the burden of rising fuel costs on consumers.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, concerns over Russian oil exports to the EU and a sharp increase in transport activity worldwide since the Covid-19 pandemic have pushed fuel prices to record levels.
Ms Naughton met Argentina's transport secretary Diego Giuliano at an international transport conference in Leipzig, Germany, on Thursday to discuss a possible licence exchange agreement with the South American country that would allow Argentinian HGV drivers on Irish roads.
The Road Safety Authority has sought technical information from its counterparts in Argentina as mutual recognition of road safety standards is required before any agreement can be reached. The department is in discussions with a number of countries about licence exchange agreements in a bid to tackle the long-term shortage of lorry drivers in the industry.