Tougher cargo transport security leads to surge in truckers’ freight rates

By Song Lin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/16 20:43:41


Rescue vehicles clean the site after an overpass collapsed in Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu Province, which killed three and injured two. Photo: IC

After the recent viaduct collapse in Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu Province that killed three people and injured two, which was caused by alleged overloading trucks, the cargo transportation industry is raising rates as penalties for overloading have been enhanced.

"The freight rates for short-distance steel transport have doubled," Wei Guoxian, general manager of Jiangsu Shengli Tools Co, a hardware tool producer located in Danyang, Jiangsu, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The rate before the viaduct collapse was 80 yuan ($11.3) per ton, Wei said.

A truck driver who usually delivers products including steel across provinces told the Global Times on Wednesday that overloading is common, especially for short-distance cargo trucks, due to thin profits of the industry.

"Only by loading more goods can profits be guaranteed," the driver said on condition of anonymity. 

He noted that large trucks, which weigh about 16 tons when empty, can carry about 33 tons of goods normally without overloading.

The trucks involved in the accident weighed more than 300 tons overall, far beyond the 55-ton safe design capacity of the viaduct, media reports said.

He said that drivers' thin profits were a major reason behind the tragedy, adding that transport companies usually keep the majority of freight charges. Drivers, who usually own the trucks, earn much less, especially after paying costs including fuel and highway tolls. 

He cited an example of a one-way shipment from East China's Anhui Province to Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, where he could earn 30 yuan per ton, but the transport company could earn about 100 yuan per ton.

"To a certain degree, higher rates are reasonable," He Hui, director of the China Logistics Information Center, told the Global Times.

The cargo shipping sector has low margins and some companies even operate at a loss, He said, noting that the only way for them to make money is overloading.

To curb overloading is necessary since it not only endangers human life but also increases the cost of public administration, which will follow with a decrease in transport capacity and rise in cargo fees, He noted.

Jiangsu has been hit by series of incidents during the past week that shocked the nation, causing serious casualties and property damage.

Besides the viaduct collapse, nine people were killed and ten injured in a restaurant gas explosion on Sunday in Wuxi,local authorities said.

Multiple authorities held emergency meetings to deal with post-accident rehabilitation, launch investigations and make plans to shore up the inspection of transport and production security.

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