Realistic SolutionsEssential To Tackle Congestion
By Tran Ban Mai
The HCM City Cargo Transport Association has just issued a document to provide feedback and suggestions to the Ministry of Transport’s Road Department on the pervasive traffic jams that afflict the roads leading to HCM City’s ports.
In response to suggestions from the Vietnam Automobile Transport Association regarding congestion in roads leading to ports, the Road Department issued Official Letter 3494/CBVN-KHCN & HTQT on August 21, 2009, suggesting that transport companies should divide their cargo and use several small trucks to carry it. Dinh Nam Dinh, vice chairman of the HCM City Cargo Transport Association, says that commodities imported from and exported to other countries are containerized in line with international standards and cannot be divided up and transported in small trucks. Moreover, this approach may breed congestion in overloaded ports and other problems, especially if the cargo concerned should not be subjected to excessive disturbance.
The Road Department’s regulations stipulate that if the roads are not upgraded or the upgrade is not uniform, transport vehicles must obtain special licenses, which the HCM City Cargo Transport Association deems as troublesome. In reality, 80% of container trucks are heavier than allowed, even where the bridges over which they travel can accommodate vehicles of up to 30 tons. Applying for special licenses will therefore be extremely time-consuming. “The procedures are onerous and may cause congestion in the ports if the cargo is not handled promptly,” Dinh says.
He considers it reasonable to require extremely heavy trucks to apply for special licenses as they may inflict enormous damage on the infrastructure. However, since most trucks are overloaded, it is unrealistic to ask them all to obtain these licenses. Article 9 of Decision 60/2007/Q-BGTVT dated December 7, 2007, by the Ministry of Transport indicates that many highways have not been upgraded yet, including national highways 80 and 90. Dinh says that both these highways are riddled with bridges which cannot accommodate vehicles of 30 tons and above. Along National Highway 52, the Saigon Bridge can only handle vehicles of up to 25 tons. The figures for Rach Chiec Bridge and Suoi Cai Bridge are 30 tons and 20 tons, respectively. Unfortunately, traffic is densest along this route, which accommodates over 15,000 cargo transport vehicles a day as it has dozens of inland container depots and big ports like Cat Lai Port and Tan Cang Port.
“This shows that the authorities are shirking their responsibilities. They push the onus to solve problems onto enterprises and fail to implement administrative reforms in line with the Government’s guidance. Consequently, they are hampering the business results of enterprises,” says Thai Van Chung, general secretary of the HCM City Cargo Transport Association.
To rectify the above problems, the HCM City Cargo Transport Association says Vietnam’s Road Department and Road Management Zone VII should join forces with local transport departments to remove the load limits where possible. If the quality of a bridge has deteriorated, an assessment of its actual load capacity must be conducted and necessary adjustments made.
Moreover, the association also proposes that trucks whose total mass, including that of their cargo, does not exceed 32.48 tons should not need to apply for special licenses. In reality, most container trucks are designed such that their heavy weight will not adversely impact the transport infrastructure.
Chung mentioned that the Government and local authorities are pulling out all the stops to fuel economic growth and enhance living standards. Of the VND20 trillion generated by government bonds in 2009, the Ministry of Transport has been given VND10 trillion. It also receives official development assistance (ODA) from the World Bank to develop transport infrastructure and collects some VND10 trillion in transport fees, which consumers and enterprises must pay via their fuel consumption.
“Why doesn’t the Ministry of Transport use these enormous funds to upgrade bridges and roads along important routes to obliterate rampant congestion?” Chung wonders.
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