The super truck believed to carry a 140-ton transformer on national Highway 1's section in Binh Thuan Province
A super-truck believed to be carrying a 140-ton transformer managed to slip past weigh stations across the country on its route from Hanoi to Binh Thuan Province and ultimately continue to its destination.
The truck, which failed to produce sufficient papers, was about to reach its final destination – Ho Chi Minh City – before it was seized in Binh Thuan.
At dawn on Saturday, a Thanh Nien source informed the authorities that a super truck bearing the license plate 51C-178.99, was pulling a trailer bearing license plate 51R-057.97 that held a 140-ton transformer from a manufacturing plant in Hanoi to HCMC.
Based on Thanh Nien’s tip, traffic police in Binh Thuan Province pulled the truck over early Sunday morning.
The company hired to transport the transformer – A Phuong Trade Investment and Export-Import Services Limited Company based in HCMC’s District 9 -- had outfitted the truck to accommodate the enormous cargo.
The 21-meter, 26-wheel (10 on the truck; 16 on the trailer) and measured 3.3 meters wide.
As soon as the super truck past the weigh station on National Highway 1 in Binh Thuan’s Ham Kiem Commune, traffic police signaled it to stop.
Dang Quang Vinh, the driver, was ordered to drive the truck into the weigh station.
Nguyen Thanh Long, head of the weigh station, said Vinh insisted that the truck was carrying just 80 tons.
But when Long asked Vinh to produce papers, Vinh showed him a license saying the truck had a maximum cargo capacity of 41.7 tons.
Long, who doubles as deputy chief-inspector of Binh Thuan Department of Transport, said the transformer was estimated to weigh over 100 tons.
“Bizarrely, the truck managed to slip past a series of weigh stations between Hanoi and Binh Thuan without being fined or ticketed,” Long said.
Vinh also failed to produce origin papers for his cargo. He said he was just hired to drive the truck.
Long contacted a scale provider to ask if the station should weigh the truck or not, but the provider advised him not to, as the truck would damage the scale given its weight.
Finally, the weigh station seized the truck’s registration and levied a fine of VND12 million to the driver for carrying the oversized cargo (based on the driver’s testimony).
The officers didn't unload the cargo before letting Vinh continue because Long said the cargo would occupy too huge a space at the station.
The station was also unable to unload the transformer as it lacked a crane capable of lifting over a hundred tons, Long explained.
With the station unable to define the weight of the truck, Binh Thuan police let it continue on its way.
Since the weigh station came into operation on April 15, the section of National Highway 1 around it remains jammed with overloaded trucks parked on the side of the road.
At night, the traffic congestion gets more serious, prompting the station to close.
Some experts told Thanh Nien it was unreasonable that the Binh Thuan weigh station could not weigh the truck.
Dang Huu Dat, director of Hanel Automation and Mechatronics Joint Stock Company, said a weigh station is designed to weigh any truck so long as the truck is not larger than the scale.
Nguyen Duc Thang, acting chief of the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam, which oversees all road transport in the country, was also surprised to hear that the Binh Thuan station failed to weigh the truck.
“They can weigh each part of the truck and then add up the numbers, or use a portable scale which can be put under each wheel to weigh it,” he said.
According to Thang, in the case of a super truck carrying cargo that cannot be cut into pieces, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam has ordered truck owners to outfit the vehicles with more wheels to increase their load capacity.
These refurbished trucks are granted certain licenses each time they transport cargo, he said, allowing them to go past weigh stations.
He couldn't believe the truck got all the way from Hanoi to Binh Thuan without being detected and without being able to produce the necessary license, he said.
“Though I cannot confirm it right now, the possiblity that weigh stations were bribed to let that truck go cannot be ruled out,” he said.
“Such loose management must be punished. Controlling the load capacities of trucks is a fight between the interests of a small group of people and those of the whole society.”
Overloaded cargo trucks have long been condemned for damaging highways and roads as well as posing risks to commuters across Vietnam.
A source from the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam said that if a vehicle increases its load two-fold, the damage it inflicts on the road can be 20 times worse.
Bribing traffic cops to get away with driving overloaded trucks or trucks carrying illegal products is common practice in Vietnam.
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