|Le Dinh Tho
The Ministry of Transport has admitted that lax management of transport firms by local authorities in 18 provinces and cities has affected traffic safety. This followed the unannounced inspection of 84 transport businesses in the 18 provinces, including 36 transport co-operatives in July and August. Viet Nam News talked to those involved in the inspection.
What were the main results of the first unannounced inspection?
Deputy Transport Minister Le Dinh Tho
Implementing Party Central Committee Directive 18 and Government Directive 12 on increasing inspections in the transportation sector, the Ministry of Transport dispatched teams led by deputy ministers to 21 cities and provinces in July and August. After finishing our work in 18 cities and provinces we found that the major problems were lax State management of transport firms and lack of effective inspection from the Directorate for Roads.
Many localities do not consider that inspecting transport firms is a critical task. In particular, the inspectors found there was little attention paid to post-licence inspections. Many transport co-operatives and firms only serve as the legal entity for vehicles to operate. This means they do not always ensure the rights of workers to social or health insurance or set up teams to monitor traffic safety.
We also found that 80 to 90 per cent of vehicles exceeded speed limits. Some container trucks were found to be speeding up to 137km per hour. To illustrate this, the Transport Department in HCM City has so far only issued business licences to 97 out of 1,710 firms using containers. Much more needs to be done to eliminate traffic accidents at its roots.
Do Van Thom, chief secretary, An Giang Province Department of Transport
Transport enterprises and co-operatives in the province were slack in three areas. Most did do not have an office to supervise traffic safety and the activities of drivers.
In addition, many firms do not pay attention to checking drivers' professional skills, especially enterprises transporting goods in containers. They also do not check the condition of the trucks.
Also, many transport firms with only two or three trucks are loosely managed and the drivers often have to speed to get the goods to their destination on time.
Tran Quang Minh, director of the Nghe An-based Binh Minh Transport Service Co-operative
The co-operative has seven subsidiary companies. In the inspection, the biggest fault discovered in the co-operative was that 33 drivers in five companies exceeded the 90km per hour speed limit. Four out of seven companies had installed substandard black boxes. The inspection also found we did not keep close watch on the information contained in those boxes so we had no idea what the drivers were doing.
The co-operative also did not periodically check drivers' health. I accept part of the responsibility.
How were these violations dealt with and will the Ministry hold further unannounced inspections?
Tho: For this inspection, we revoked the permits of 25 co-operative and transport firms, 319 truck registrations, and issued fines of up to VND420 million (US$20,000). The Ministry also asked the Government to send an official warning to HCM City authorities for its lack of management and inspections of container transport firms. We also asked for warnings to be issued to An Giang, Long An, Lao Cai, Khanh Hoa and Lang Son provinces which have a large number of transport firms that have broken the rules.
I want to reaffirm that the Ministry considers inspections as a top priority. We believe in inspecting all areas under the management of the ministry, including transport on roads, rail, air, sea and domestic waterways. Seven deputy ministers will continue to inspect all 63 cities and provinces until the end of the first quarter next year.
Thom: We admit that the department did not pay enough attention to the operation of transport firms. It's a big lesson. Without punishment, the enterprises obviously can easily repeat their violations. However, as the installation of black boxes to supervise drivers is new to the province, we have not followed the rules rigidly. After the unannounced inspection, department officials will now check all remaining transport enterprises.
Department inspectors will issue strict punishments on the spot. This could include forcing an enterprise to cease operation. We will also send a report on our inspections of the remaining transport firms to the ministry.
Minh: This is the first time we have installed black boxes. We did not clearly understand the ministry's regulations on the quality of the boxes.
Moreover, transport enterprises have difficulty in choosing a proper box. However, to supervise the black boxes, we must hire at least three people to work in shifts. The cost will be high.
We believe that agencies controlling signals from the black boxes should join hand with enterprises to prevent network blocking. If the network is blocked, the boxes will not work and transport inspectors can be led to think that the enterprises cheated.
The Ministry of Transport should have clear regulations on who will take the blame if a black box is not working, the enterprises or the manufacturer.
When a black box is newly installed, the ministry should allow the firms six months to a year to pilot its operation and quality before any inspections. Provincial department of transport should also organise training courses on black boxes to ensure effective operation.
The National Day holiday (August 31-September 2) led to 82 deaths and 197 traffic accidents, up from 130 last year. Can the public expect that tightening inspections will lower the number of accidents?
Tho: The Ministry understands that traffic safety will continue to be a hot issue this year and in coming years, even though we recorded fewer traffic accidents and casualties in July and August.
We believe the inspection of transport firms and management can help ensure traffic safety. We will co-ordinate closely with Public Security and People's Committees at all levels and the National Committee on Traffic Safety to raise awareness and increase punishments. — VNS