Government suspends truck driver fines

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The government has responded to complaints from trucking companies by suspending fines on truck drivers who fail to upgrade their licenses in line with a new regulation.

The move aims to ease difficulties at container ports that have been at a standstill since a new rule came into effect requiring all truck drivers to renew or upgrade their licenses.

Too few drivers met the requirements to upgrade, meaning that the country effectively lost 70 percent its drivers, slowing the shipment of goods across the nation to a snail's pace.

The new government decision has suspended the fines for violating the rule until June next year.

A statement on the government website said drivers needed to be given more time to renew and upgrade their licenses.

The development came after local trucking companies asked the government to roll back its decision requiring commercial drivers holding class C, D and E licenses to upgrade to class FC, saying the measure has stopped movements at ports because most drivers do not qualify to apply for the licenses.

FC licenses require a minimum of 50,000 kilometers of logged driving without incident.

The decision, which remains in place, slowed traffic out of container ports through the first two weeks of July.

"It is good news for transportation firms to receive such a quick response from the government," said Thai Van Chung, secretary general of the Ho Chi Minh City Goods Transportation Association.

Chung told Thanh Nien Weekly that drivers without FC licenses had been fined up to VND2-3 million (US$105-157) since the decision took effect in July 1.

He said suspending the fines would put things back to normal.

He added that many drivers had refused to drive without the new licenses they were not qualified to have.

The association said just 30 percent of drivers had successfully obtained the licenses so far while about 20,000 drivers still needed to upgrade their licenses. About 37 centers nationwide offer the training courses needed for FC licenses.

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