Transport authorities in a southern Vietnamese province have requested that any traffic police officer or inspector found breaking laws regarding the control of trucks in a local quarry area be strictly penalized. The request was made at a meeting held on Tuesday between the Traffic Inspectorate of Dong Nai Province and the Traffic Police Department of Bien Hoa, which is the provincial capital. The meeting was convened after Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper published an article earlier the same day reporting on a situation in which dump trucks overloaded with stones sped on streets, threatening local residents in an area of many quarries in Bien Hoa, despites two checkpoints there. Tran Tien Dung, deputy chief inspector of the provincial Transport Department, told Tuoi Tre that these two checkpoints were set up by the provincial traffic police and are headed by a police official from Bien Hoa, who is aided by traffic police officers and traffic inspectors. A number of traffic police officers and traffic inspectors have been negligent while on duty, Dung said. “Six traffic inspectors have been asked to submit reports about their violations and we will consider disciplinary actions against them.” Such signs of negligence while on duty were pointed out in a recent investigation by Tuoi Tre correspondents in Bien Hoa’s Phuoc Tan Commune, home to many quarries. The provincial authorities have set up two checkpoints on Dinh Quang An Street to control the loads that trucks carry from the quarries, but most trucks still operate unsafely in the area, Huynh Thanh Phuong, deputy chairman of the Phuoc Tan Commune People’s Committee, told Tuoi Tre investigative correspondents. “There was only one quarry here in 2004, but many others have been set up since then. On average, trucks now make 1,000 entries and exits in the quarry area through Dinh Quang An Street per day,” Phuong said, adding that this has affected about 1,000 households in the area. The owners of many trucks whose technical verification certificate expired in mid-2004 still use their vehicles to carry stones, despite the risks. In addition, most trucks are overloaded when they carry stones out of the quarries. A truck driver named Dat told Tuoi Tre that trucks there often carry a load that is 1-2 metric tons higher than the allowable maximum load. Many drivers, due to the time pressure in delivery, often speed dangerously, Dat said. “Nine of every ten trucks there are overloaded,” said a truck mechanic in the area. “It is terrible to see them run like the wind on the street.” Regarding the police’s handling of traffic law violations, many drivers told Tuoi Tre that trucks bearing the logos of Kim Hung Long, Phat An, Minh Anh 1 and Danacoop are rarely penalized, or are only fined slightly. Such logos are considered a free pass for drivers, a driver said. On the morning of May 20, Tuoi Tre reporters saw three traffic inspectors and two traffic police officers at a check point near filling station No. 14 in the commune. At 7:50 am, one of the traffic inspectors signaled a truck carrying sand to stop for examination. The truck driver got out, went over to the inspector and handed something to him. The driver then returned to the truck and drove away. From 7:40 am to 10:25 am, this check point only examined a number of light trucks or sand- or soil-carrying vehicles, while letting stone-carrying dump trucks pass without any examination. At another checkpoint located 3 km away, Tuoi Tre witnessed hundreds of stone dumpers pass without being inspected by law enforcers from 9:30 am to 10:30 am on May 21. A driver said that almost every truck operating in the area was overloaded. On May 22, Tuoi Tre returned to the checkpoint near filling station No. 14 and saw about 50 trucks travel past from 8:30 am to 9:10 am, but none of them were examined by the three traffic inspectors there. In addition, Tuoi Tre found that there is a group of at least five people who work as “watchmen” for truck owners in the area. These watchmen often travel around the commune and when they spot an interdisciplinary inspection team, they will immediately inform truck owners of it.
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