Ministries of Transport and Public Security would take drastic measures to find and punish overloaded trucks, being blamed for damaging roads and threatening the safety of commuters.

Early this year, the Prime Minister asked ministries to curb overloaded trucks and late last month, another similar order was made to ministries to conduct more inspections to detect and punish violators.

However, according to the Ministry of Transport, the number of overloaded trucks on roads across the country iss increasing in more a complicated way. Nearly half of the total trucks checked were found to carry more goods than allowed and, in some cases, carried as much as twice the allowed loading capacity.

On December 3, Vong Bridge in southern Vinh Long province, which was designed to support vehicles up to 30 tonnes, collapsed after a man deliberately drove a 60-tonne truck across the bridge. The incident caused losses of billions of VND and blocked traffic from the province to the neighbouring province of Tra Vinh.

Further, in the last 11 months, about 26,260 trucks were found to be overloaded and 22,568 drivers had their licences revoked. Authorities also forced violators to unload over 76,500 tonnes of goods and collected fines worth over 57 billion VND (2.7 million USD).

Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho said that as a way to curb overloaded trucks, the ministry set up ten mobile weighing stations along national highways to check them.

The weighing stations were used to detect and punish overloaded trucks and the ministry would soon set up more stations across the country, he said.

However, director of northern Yen Bai province's Public Security Department Dang Tran Chieu said drivers who drove overloaded trucks used tricks, including choosing other roads to avoid having their trucks weighed at the stations or sprinkling water on tyres, which made weighing equipment less accurate.

If authorities tightened inspections, transport firms would halt their goods being delivered to local factories, he said, noting that the move might have a negative impact on local workers and the province's economy.

Chairman of the Vietnam Automobile Transportation Association Nguyen Van Thanh said that drivers were partly responsible for driving overloaded trucks but, in cases, they reluctantly did so as owners wanted to load trucks as much as possible to reduce transportation costs.

If drivers refuse to carry, they would not be hired again, he said, adding that punishing drivers would not solve the problem of overloaded trucks.

Deputy Director of Ho Chi Minh City's Transport Department Duong Hong Thanh said 80 per cent of trucks received goods and departed from storehouses or ports, so authorities should tighten inspection there to curb overloaded trucks on roads.

However, if a port authority more closely examines the loading of vehicles, goods owners and transport firms might choose other ports, he said, urging more sanctions for goods owners and port authorities if vehicles are found overloaded.

Meanwhile, Colonel Tran Son Ha, vice head of the Road Traffic Police under the Ministry of Public Security said that this year, they would further co-operate with port authorities to detect and punish overloaded truck violators at warehouses and ports, while continuing to help drivers and goods owners improve their understanding of the issue.-VNA