|Drivers are given health check-up at the Driving Licences Agency in HCM City. Some 1,700 drivers have failed to meet health criteria for commercial transport, a latest report found. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
HA NOI (VN ) — Nationwide health check-ups for coach and taxi drivers have been carried out on more than 127,000 drivers so far, and uncovered 400 cases of heroin abuse.
Some 1,300 also failed to meet health criteria for commercial transport, according to the latest report from the Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam.
In a move to improve the quality of public transport., the Ministry of Transport in March required transport firms across the country to work with local health centres to conduct check-ups on coach and taxi drivers.
Representative from the directorate said while many provinces and cities had carried out the check-ups properly, there were still localities that allowed transport firms conduct check-ups by themselves without strict supervision.
This had led to doubts over the accuracy of the figures.
Le Trong Thanh, deputy director of Ninh Binh Province's Department of Transport, said out of 1,000 drivers checked, only four failed the health requirements.
"Allowing transport firms to carry out check-ups themselves gives them more flexibility, but on the other hand it might lead to inaccurate reports because drivers are informed in advance about the timing of the check-ups," he said.
In reality, some drivers were suspected of using drugs, but the tests came out negative, and the firms can't fire them.
Facilities in Ninh Binh Province's health centres were also limited, and they were only able to test for morphine and heroin with no way of telling whether drivers were using ecstasy, methamphetamine or other types of synthetic drugs.
"The tests are unable to discoverwho's using drugs," Thanh said.
He cited an example when the provincial authorities carried out a snap inspection using a more advanced testing technique, and 16 out of 363 drivers tested positive for illegal drugs.
Nguyen Hoang Linh, director of the Ha Noi Transport Department, also admitted the problem, saying that only spot inspections could give accurate results.
"The Ministry of Transport doesn't specify which kind of testing equipment should be used," he said.
Dinh Van Nam, head of the Vehicles and Drivers Management Unit of Nghe An Province's Transport Department, said if drivers were found to be using drugs or failed to meet health requirements, transport firms would be asked to end their contracts.
However, punishments for drivers who test positive for drugs is still loose and unclear.
Nguyen Van Quyen, deputy general director of the Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam, said the Government's decree on punishments for drivers who use drugs said should only be imposed if drivers were tested on the job.
According to the decree, drivers would have their licenses withdrawn for two years if the tests came back positive.
"The Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam has asked the Ministry of Transport to punish drivers who test positive at regular check-ups too," Quyen said.
The directorate has also recommended that licenses should only be returned when drivers meet all health requirements and test negative for drugs. — VNS