Never-ending game between overloaded trucks and weighbridges in Vietnam
Having been in operation on all highway sections in Vietnam for a month and a half, weighbridges have failed to stop overloading and instead created frustration for drivers toward current laws and regulations.
Instead of eliminating drivers from carrying overloads, weighbridges have created a ‘game of chances’ played by drivers and the transport officials who operate the machines.
The game is commonly called ‘wait and run.’ However, it is rather more complicated as bribery is also faceted in.
Under ‘normal condition,’ drivers of overloaded trucks call their intermediaries to give bribes to corrupt transport officials to overlook it.
When the ‘normal condition’ is marred by the ‘sudden’ law enforcement, overloaded trucks stop to wait at mobile weighbridges, and drive away when they have a chance to escape such as a power cut, shift changing of officials, or rain.
Traffic jam at weighbridges
In the past few days, local traffic congestion has taken place at several mobile weighbridges since overloaded trucks stop to wait for a chance to go through.
After Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper disclosed that corrupt transport officials who operate weighbridges colluded with intermediaries to ‘let go’ overloaded trucks for money at Da Huoai truck scale in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, La Nga weighbridge in the southern province of Dong Nai, and other locations in central Binh Thuan Province, the situation has recently ‘calmed down.’
Intermediaries pause covering their ‘services.’
As a result, traffic congestion occurred at mobile weighbridges because overloaded trucks stop and wait around.
On May 13 morning at Da Huoai, hundreds of overloaded trucks parked in lines extending six kilometers in length. From 9:00 to 12:00 am on the date, only two trucks went through the ‘checking gate’ located on National Highway 20.
Local residents lodged complaints to authorities over air pollution caused by trucks carrying smelly cargo.
A new service has emerged at the weighbridges: extra cargo is to be temporarily transferred to light trucks. After going through ‘the gate,’ the cargo is loaded back onto heavy trucks.
Drivers often join together in groups to discuss ways to cross without being fined when intermediaries disappeared. They even disrupted circuit breakers of electricity grids on the side of the highway in an attempt to stop the operation of weighbridges. Others threw stones toward transport officials and verbally abused them.
On May 14 evening, rain poured down and herds of around 400 overloaded trucks sped up to cross the weighbridges because the electric machine cannot work when it is raining.
Ministries set up teams to inspect road inspectors
Tran Xuan Huong, vice chief of the inspection team of the Department of Transport of Lam Dong Province, admitted that not all trucks have to go through weighbridges and his transport staff can decide which ones to check.
And cameras installed to record the activities of weighbridge staff cannot cover everything, he added.
So, the fact that weighbridges are deployed on all highway sections in provinces for permanent checking becomes ‘nullified’ when trucks are selected to check at the subjective judgment of weighbridge staff.
Commenting on the allegations that weighbridge officials received bribes and ignored overloaded trucks to go on lanes without checking, Huong argued that his staff could not know the weight of a truck with ‘normal eyes’ to decide which one to check.
In the meantime, Dang Van Chung, vice inspection chief of the Vietnam Road Authority, said police will investigate the allegations of bribery committed by weighbridge staff.
He added that the Ministry of Transport will coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security to set up two teams to check on road inspectors at mobile weighbridges across the nation.
Now, at the instruction of Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, police are verifying the identification of intermediaries accused of taking bribes in Dong Nai and Lam Dong Provinces as the press has uncovered in the past few days.