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Trucks weigh in on transport costs

Update: May, 03/2014 - 09:57

Chairman of the Viet Nam Automobile Transportation Association, Nguyen Van Thanh, spoke with Dan Viet (Vietnamese People) newspaper about the campaign to address overloaded trucks.

The ongoing campaign to control overloaded trucks has increased transportation costs. Do you think this will shock society?

Of course. When the Ministry of Transport launches the campaign to control overloaded trucks by deploying weighbridges across Viet Nam, the transport cost will increase.

However, the current transportation cost in Viet Nam does not reflect the true cost. To compensate for the cost, truck owners or drivers increase the truck load to twice or even triple the weight limit. If the owner of the goods wants to pay less in transportation fees, he or she should choose other options for transport such as rail and waterway.

What is the real value of the road transportation fee?

The idea is that the truck will not surpass the weight limit. However, it has become normal practice all over the world for truck drivers to bribe law enforcement officers on the road. In an official accounting system, such illegal payments can't be reflected in the bills.

In Viet Nam we consider road transportation fees the cheapest. But in reality, they are not. Now it is time for us to make transportation fees reflect their real value.

Farmers are worst-affected by this problem, whether they are sellers or buyers. How do you respond to that?

Farmers are the most vulnerable people. In their negotiations, traders simply tell the farmers that due to the high cost of transportation, we cannot pay you higher. Meanwhile, as consumers, farmers are the ones who pay the transportation cost increase in the goods they buy. However, it is up to buyers to decide whether they want to buy goods.

How the government should step in to solve the problem remains an open question.

People have complained that the practice of giving bribes to law enforcement officers distorts the real transportation cost. Do you agree?

A certain group of corrupt law enforcement officers have eroded people's confidence in justice.

I think in the ongoing campaign to control overloaded trucks, law enforcement officers play a very important role. I believe truck drivers want to be law-abiding citizens.

Another factor forcing truck drivers to surpass the weight limit is the lack of discipline in the transportation sector. Transportation companies have practised unfair competition for many years. They compete against each other to keep costs low by illegally surpassing the weight limit, rather than on the quality of their services or safety.

Do you think that the Ministry of Transport (MOT) launched the campaign to deploy weighbridges to control overloaded trucks at the right time?

I have a feeling the MOT did not foresee the piling up of goods due to the deployment of weighbridges nationwide. It forgot to co-ordinate with other transport modes, like railroad and inland waterway, to solve the problem of piling up goods.

Quite a few goods owners think of railroad as an alternative transport mode, so they telephoned the railroad company. But the answer they received was "Sorry, we cannot do it!"

In the past, the cost of rail transport in Viet Nam was much higher than that of road transport. That's why road transport has become the main mode of goods transportation.

So I think it is time for the government to intervene by ordering the rail service to help transport some of the goods. This will ensure that the campaign succeeds. — VNS

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