Traffic chaos hits businesses
Traffic chaos hits businesses

Traffic congestion is beginning to bite Perth businesses, slicing into profits and productivity and putting jobs at risk.

A survey of 400 Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA members and RAC customers found two in five companies were turning down work because of congestion.

Estimates on the cost of congestion ranged from $200 to more than $1 million, averaging about $20,000.

The costs were in fuel, overtime and lost business and productivity.

"If we factor in time lost due to traffic in our tenders, we are commercially uneconomic and we lose the tender," one company said.

Another business said: "We need to employ more staff to complete the same task. In some case, we drop 50 per cent productivity as we cannot schedule to complete two loads in one day."

The survey also found congestion was starting to affect workers' health and wellbeing.

Businesses reported increased stress and fatigue, a decline in punctuality, increased counselling for poor worker behaviour and an increase in errors.

Of particular concern were the safety implications for drivers spending longer on the road.

"Staff are coming in at 6.30am instead of 8am and leaving after 6pm just to miss the traffic," one respondent said. "Employee fatigue is on the increase, resulting in an increase in errors and decrease in work-life balance."

Despite the growing problem, 71 per cent of respondents said they were "not at all confident" that State and Federal governments had adequate plans to fight congestion.

"We feel the road infrastructure is lagging behind business needs by about five years," one firm said.

Chamber chief executive James Pearson said the results showed the need for urgent action on congestion, which was adding to the high cost of doing business in WA.

"It's not just an extra five minutes caught in traffic," Mr Pearson said. "These results show that congestion is hurting employers and their staff, increasing costs and dragging down productivity."

RAC president Tim Shanahan said the survey showed congestion no longer had just a social impact on commuters.

"It is clear WA businesses are now at breaking point," he said.

Tomorrow is the last day to nominate Perth's worst traffic congestion red spots at www.redspotswa. com.au

The West Australian

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