NI Protocol described as a ‘car crash and a nightmare’ as one haulier says firm may fold within months

Grim tidings were aired at a Stormont committee today, as a haulage boss indicated that the protocol is such a “bureaucratic nightmare” that it may finish off his firm within months.
Mark TaitMark Tait
Mark Tait

Mark Tait was just one of a number of freight industry figures giving evidence about the Irish Sea border to MLAs on the finance committee, overseen by UUP MLA Steve Aiken.

Mr Tait is director of Randalstown-based Target Transport.

The company was incorporated in 1996.

But he said that it may not see 2022.

“The protocol does not work for our type of business,” he said.

“The bureaucracy we face as a small family-run company is getting to the stage where its almost unsustainable for us.

“We know there’s possibly more coming down the pipeline when grace periods end – and I don’t think we can possibly cope with that.

“It’s just an absolute bureaucratic mess from our point of view, of having to move goods across the Irish Sea we know are not destined for the RoI or EU market.”

For example, the other day he counted 45 shipments, of which only three were ultimately destined to go on to the Republic of Ireland.

“But yet I had to do declarations for all 45 shipments,” he said.

“That takes time. That’s administration. That administration costs money.

He added: “I’m spending sometimes 10 or 15 minutes per declaration. If you’re doing 30, 40 of them a day, that takes a lot of time. We simply cannot cope with the pressure.”

He added: “Guys, it’s just to the stage where we are seriously considering hte future of our business because of the way things are operating.

“And whether or not we continue after the end of this year will depend on what comes in the next few months between the EU and the UK.”

Mr Aiken interjected: “What you said there worries me considerably.

“You obviously, as a small business, are looking at your cash flow... If businesses like yourself are really concerned if you’re still going to be a going concern by the early New Year that’s really worrying.”

Geoff Potter, managing director of the firm Gray & Adams, described the system as “dysfunctional”, “bureaucratic”, “basically unsustainable” and “a major car crash”.

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