Monday, July 12, 2010

Container Build Up At Ports As Truck Licence Crackdown Hits Vietnam

Drivers Reluctant to Register for Formal Scheme
Shipping News Feature

VIETNAM – Reports come in of delays to containers shipping into the country because of a new registration scheme for trucking firms. A law passed in 2008 requires that all truck drivers register themselves, and their vehicles with central authorities and the deadline passed on 1st July. Despite truckers claiming that the registration requirement has been postponed until 31st December police are apparently fining unlicensed drivers already.

The registration requires any driver to be over 24 and hold the relevant driving licence, have three years experience and a reasonably clean accident record. Inexperienced drivers must take a course of study for one month before being allowed on the roads. Only 30% of drivers in Ho Chi Minh city have registered despite an estimated 70% being eligible. Police are reportedly imposing the recommended penalties to defaulters which include a fine, 10 day suspension from the trucks operation, and impounding both the driver’s licence and vehicle registration plate. The operator can only have a licensed driver claim the plate back.

The effect of this has caused many drivers to stop working rather than face the penalties which they claim are not even supposed to be in force as yet. Containers are backing up at all major ports and the fear is that, should the problem continue for the next couple of weeks, there will be insufficient space to store the both import and export boxes. Road transport officials have been touring the ports to see the problems first hand and reporting back with a view to solving the situation.

The Transport Ministry admitted the deadline had been extended but claimed the penalties were always to be enforced from the agreed date and that this had been made clear. They say operators and drivers had simply chosen to ignore the new rules and dismissed claims that they were too complicated.

The accident situation in the country was the reason the comprehensive changes were introduced and it is clear the authorities wish to force drivers to recognise their responsibilities and improve the safety record of a country which hopes to be a major artery for freight into South East Asia.