|Hundreds of trucks transporting Vietnamese farm produce to China have been stuck at the border gate in Van Lang District for more than a week, according to northern Lang Son Province's Customs Department. — VNS Photo Truong Vi
LANG SON (VNS) — It has been a long wait for Dinh Van Du, a truck driver from the central province of Binh Dinh Province.
It has taken him four days, moving at snail's pace, to move from northern city of Lang Son to the Tan Thanh International Border Gate, a distance of about 35km.
Du is resigned to this pace.
The driver, who was hired to transport watermelons to China, told the Lao Dong (Labour) Newspaper, "I think it will take one more day to carry the fruits to China."
Hundreds of trucks transporting Vietnamese farm produce to China have been struck at the border gate in Van Lang District for more than a week, according to the provincial Customs Department.
As many as 700 trucks carrying thousands of agricultural products, mostly watermelons, have been standing in a queue several kilometers long, waiting to go through the customs procedures before entering China, Deputy Director Dang Thi Ngan of the Tan Thanh Customs Division told Viet Nam News.
"We have co-ordinated with customs officials in China to extend working hours by more than two hours per day since early this week. However, even after the extension, we can only clear about 300 trucks, and around 400 others end up waiting each day," she said.
She also said that across the border in China's Guangxi Province, the goods clearance area could only accommodate 300 trucks per day.
The border gate deadlock has become a common occurrence for years, especially when the watermelon crop in central and southern Vietnamese provinces is harvested.
This year, farmers in these provinces have harvested a bumper crop of watermelons and at prices of VND15,000 – 22,000 (US$0.7 - 1) per kilogram.
But, said driver Du, "The traders think that selling the fruits in China will earn them more profit than here. So I will be paid all my accommodation expenses while waiting and for carrying the fruits to China."
The higher prices that watermelons fetch in China had motivated the rush by Vietnamese businesses to transport them across the border for several years now, Ngan said.
She said the Chinese government had been constructing two additional goods clearance areas that would be able to accommodate 700 trucks each day, so they are expecting the congestion to ease next year.
Local authorities in the province have also cautioned Vietnamese businesses to streamline the transportation of farm produce to border areas.
They say this is needed because it has happened in previous years that importers have brought down prices drastically, citing delays and quality concerns. Since fresh produce is an easily perishable good, this has resulted in Vietnamese businesses suffering losses at the border, the authorities say. — VNS