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Modified lorries to be taken off the road

Update: July, 28/2014 - 09:41
The Ministry of Transport has deployed inspection teams nationwide from July 15 to check and punish those who violate norms by reconfiguring the lorries, changing their initial design, to carry more load. Viet Nam News interviewed two transport ministry officials in charge of the inspection campaign to ask what motivated the move and what has been done so far. The paper also spoke to a member of the local weighing station to know what he and his colleagues go through while dealing with wayward lorry drivers. Finally, the paper carried the opinions of a driver who used to modify his lorry to carry more load.
Nguyen Van Huyen

Nguyen Van Huyen, General Director of the Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam and Chief Inspector of the Ministry of Transport

The deployment of inspection teams is part of the Ministry of Transport's comprehensive plan to crackdown on lorries that are exceedingly overloaded, a factor that has emerged as the main reason of some serious damage to the roads. One of our major targets this time is the self-modified lorries that carry load far beyond what is permitted.

So far we have set up nine teams with the Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam (DRVN) as the main co-ordinator. Other departments involved are the Viet Nam Register, transport inspectors, the transport construction quality asset and management department, local transport departments and traffic police. We have sent documents to relevant departments nationwide about the move and have informed the transport enterprises about this. They will have to pledge to change the self-modified lorries back to conform to the original design. We plan to carry out the inspection from August. There will be sudden inspection campaigns as well.

This is not a one-time campaign. It must continue and endure. If all four road management units in the country work closely to check this menace of self-modified lorries, we will be able to control overloaded vehicles better.

As for the lorries found in violation for the first time, we will ask the register sector to withdraw the certificate of technical safety and environmental protection, thus rendering these vehicles ineligible to run on roads. Those who violate for the second time will face punishment as per law.

After inspection, the DRVN will make a list of lorries found violating and will provide this to project management units and investors and ask them not to use those vehicles or sign contracts with owners found in violation.

We will find measures to deal with lorries that deliberately avoid weighing stations or purposely destroy them.

Nguyen Huu Tri, Deputy General Director of Viet Nam Register

Nguyen Huu Tri

Inspection of vehicles plying on the road has shown that most are modified much beyond the specifications that they had when first registered.

As a result, the minister of transport has asked departments and agencies to conduct another compulsory check of all vehicles.

In the past, such an additional check was left to the free will of the vehicle owners and enterprises without any supervision of authorised agencies. But now, the Viet Nam Register has been requested to work with the DRVN to check the vehicles' technical condition between the two mandatory registries.

To prepare for this, the Viet Nam Register has been assigned to draft a circular, listing regulations affixing the responsibility of the enterprises regarding repair and maintenance of vehicles between the two registries. Accordingly, owners and enterprises must have their vehicles repaired and undergo maintenance after a certain time period or distance travelled. The circular has been submitted to the transport ministry and is expected to be issued by August.

The targets of the teams will be load carrying lorries and sleeper buses. The lorries will be checked for changes made or modifications carried out from the original design to carry more load. Similarly, the buses will be checked to ascertain if additional beds have been affixed or some beds have been removed to create space to carry goods. All these are violations as these can engender lives when running on road.

According to the Viet Nam Register's reports on vehicles' quality, most violations are committed by self-modified lorries carrying excess load. Such lorries account for 20 per cent of the total.

During the inspection, the Viet Nam Register, as a key member of the team, will provide all information about the lorries' management registry, including vehicles' original documents, technical data, assemblage, components and import information.

With the help of this, the inspection team can reach the exact conclusion about the vehicles' situation whether changes have been made after it was registered first.

Recently, we have incorporated a photo of the vehicle into the register certificate so that registration centres can later compare with the actual lorry. Also, this will enable transport inspectors and traffic policemen to identify rule violating lorries.

Registration centres nationwide have been requested to strictly check the vehicles. Lorries found in contravention of the norms will be refused registration stamp till they re-convert to match the original design.

All the data about the vehicles will be put online, and the database will be shared by all registration centres throughout the country.

Registration staff will also be equipped with new technology and training to carry out inspections.

Nguyen Van Bach, an official working at a weighing station in the northern province of Ha Nam

Mobile weighing stations have been installed at localities to check container lorries over the past three months, including in Ha Nam Province. Three months is not a long enough period to assess exactly how this measure was working. Initial results proved that it has helped reduce the number of norm-violating container lorries.

However, a problem arises since many drivers find ways to skip the weighing stations by using other routes, leading to a drop in the number of container lorries that undergo the checks.

Among the many difficulties we encounter, first is the fact that we do not have enough facilities to completely handle container trucks that use oversized cargo tankers. Even when we catch such a lorry, we do not have enough area where the driver can unload some of his cargo to reduce the load to stay within limits. We could only give them an official note to mete out punishment later and allow them to reduce the load on their own. As a result, many drivers keep travelling on the road with the same load.

The quality of weighing scales is another challenge. Sometimes, a scale does not work properly and gives wrong results about the weight, making it difficult to punish violators.

Also, it takes time to re-weigh such lorries repeatedly. As we are not trained well in operating and ensuring that scales are regularly maintained, it is not easy for us to fix the scale.

In addition, in some areas, drivers try to destroy weighing stations or use weapons to threaten those working at the stations.

Further training for us is necessary to better operate the scales. Also, human resources are limited, causing difficulty to carry out the work. Thus, more investment in developing the human resources is also needed.

We also need to be equipped with higher-quality scales.

Nguyen Van Duong, driver of a private transport company in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai

Nguyen Van Duong

I used to drive lorries which were widened than the original size of a cargo tank. Most of them transported building materials. The cargo tanks were changed, depending on the lorry's tonnage. The tank of over-15-tonne lorry could be widened by 40-50 centimetres whereas the tank of under-15-tonne lorry was widened by 20-25 centimetres. With the widened cargo tank, a 15-tonne lorry could transport more than 30 tonnes of goods, which meant double its regulated amount.

It was difficult to drive such a lorry because it was too heavy and could easily meet with an accident, so the driver must drive slowly and carefully. The time to transport the goods was also doubled. For instance, it took me three days to drive a 25-tonne lorry from Lao Cai Province to Ha Noi, and six days to drive a 50-tonne lorry.

Due to the overloaded cargo tanks, the lorry was damaged.

The system of close supervision and inspection of the cargo tank's size is a right step.

The driver will feel more relaxed, and the time to transport the goods will be shortened. This means I can make more trips and there is less pressure that can lead to accident. My colleagues and I support the regulation.

But, of course, the cost of transportation will increase, leading to an increase in the goods' prices and the residents will be directly influenced. The ministry should consider measures to deal with the problem.

Earlier, when I drove an overloaded lorry, I could see that many passed the weighing station test easily by paying some bribe. Together with tightening the management of the cargo tank and giving punishment to individuals and transport companies found in violation, the ministry should also inspect workers at the weighing stations to prevent them from receiving bribe and clearing overloaded lorries. — VNS

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