Under Official Letter No. 1782 signed on March 16 by Minister Dinh La Thang, all transport departments are to immediately stop examining and approving motor vehicles with modified designs or granting certificates of technical safety and environmental protection to such vehicles.
The sudden directive has the effect of nullifying the ministry’s Decision 15 issued in 2005 that allowed most motor vehicles to alter their design to improve their transport capacity.
As explained in the directive, the ministry reached the decision to stop the policy because many transporters have overloaded their transformed vehicles, thus seriously damaging roads and bridges and posing grave traffic risks.
Many trucks’ owners who have spent a considerable amount of money, up to hundreds of millions of dong, on modifying their vehicles now suffer significant financial losses due to the immediate stop.
Hua Van Chinh, the owner of Ba Chia Garage in Binh Tan District, HCMC, told Tuoi Tre that a 13-ton Hyundai truck he kept in the garage was modified at a cost of VND200 million for transport performance improvement, but its owner recently had to pay VND30 million to restore the vehicle to its original form.
Another transporter, Hoang Em, said he spent more than VND70 million to fix a body shell to his semi trailer he had bought at VND100 million for farm produce transport. Two weeks ago, he took the upgraded vehicle to the Vehicle Registration Center in Binh Thanh District and was told registration for such vehicles was no longer permitted.
Since the ministry authorized the modification of vehicles, many people have bought second-hand trucks and transformed them in accordance to Decision 15 to use for their transport services. This helped them cut down on costs and increase their profit margins, since buying brand-new trucks requires larger investment, often twice as much, said To Phuoc, the owner of To Chau Transport Enterprise in Binh Tan District.
Hoang Em, who owns a transport business in Binh Chanh District, HCMC, removes the parts he has fitted to his trailer to transform it back to its original condition (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
Hurried decision, unreasonable reason
Nguyen Huong, director of the Motor Vehicle Register Center under Da Nang City Transport Department, said the city now has hundreds of trucks and dumpers that have been altered in design. With the new regulation, the owners must stop using these vehicles when their registration term expires or else have to pay to have them transformed back to their original condition.
Dinh Nam Dinh, deputy chairman of the HCMC Goods Transport Association, said, “The policy that allows trucks to be renovated has helped many transport businesses to save costs since they can make the best use of used vehicles. Therefore, we propose that the ministry remove the recent directive.”
It is not reasonable to accuse transformed vehicles of causing damage to roads, as they have to undergo technical safety verification by local transport departments and obtain quality certificates from the register sub-departments, he said.
Hung proposed that the ministry should continue licensing vehicles whose transformation was made before March 16 to avoid causing great losses to their owners.
An official from the HCMC Department of Transport said the directive is a bureaucratic order shoved down vehicle and transport business owners’ throat since it was signed on March 16 and asked all transport departments to immediately stop registration of altered vehicles.
However, the department did not receive the directive until three days later. By that time, the agency had completed 60 files of transformed vehicles and their owners had already proceeded with the registration process, only to be turned away afterwards at registry centers.
Duong Hong Thanh, deputy director of the department, said that on March 21, the agency sent a proposal to the ministry asking for permission to grant certificates to vehicles that had been approved before March 16 but has received no feedback so far.
Many officials at the department and those in charge of vehicle registration said the ministry’s reasons for stopping certification of altered vehicles were not convincing, since verification by transport departments and certification by registry centers can assure that such vehicles meet regulations on traffic safety and do not cause damage to roads.
The fact that a number of transporters overload their regular or transformed vehicles is a different issue that will be handled by concerned agencies, and thus it cannot be used as rationale for ending the implementation of Decision 15, they said.