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Loose shipping containers pose danger to road commuters in Vietnam

Saturday, August 10, 2019, 09:53 GMT+7
Loose shipping containers pose danger to road commuters in Vietnam
An accident involving a loose shipping container in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, July 17, 2019. Photo: P.P. / Tuoi Tre

Repeated fatal accidents this year involving shipping containers falling onto roads while being transported in Vietnam have sounded the alarm on safety negligence on the part of some tractor-trailer drivers, who fail to fasten the containers after loading.

On March 23, a shipping container fell sideways out of a moving semi-trailer truck in the southern province of Dong Thap, crushing two women and a two-year-old baby who were on a motorcycle by the truck’s side.

A similar incident happened on July 2 when a container that had disengaged itself from a semi crushed the front of a nearby car on an expressway linking Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring Dong Nai Province.

Two days later, a 33-year-old man was crushed to death by a shipping container that had fallen off a nearby semi-trailer truck in District 12.

The latest of such accidents occurred on July 17, when a motorcyclist narrowly avoided death from a falling container in Binh Duong Province, although her legs were injured under its weight.

After the July 17 incident, a tractor-trailer driver got in contact with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper with an insider’s tip-off on a malpractice involving drivers intentionally neglecting to secure containers to their vehicles to save time.

There are retractable pins on trailer chassis that must be extended into holes on the rear corners of shipping containers to secure and prevent them from moving backwards, sideways or lifting off during transportation, the driver said.

Ignoring to secure containers allows drivers to be on the move as soon as loading or unloading is finished, which saves a lot of time, he added.

An unsecured shipping container on the move in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre
An unsecured shipping container on the move in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre

“If the locks are secured, it is not easy for a shipping container to fall off,” the driver said.

“We get the job done faster if we don’t secure the locks,” said L., a 38-year-old semitruck driver in Ho Chi Minh City.

Observing activities at the Tan Cang - My Thuy depot in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City in early August 2019, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters counted many semi-trailer trucks leaving the port without securing their trailer locks.

On streets near the Cat Lai Port in District 2 and Phu Huu Port in District 9, dozens of semis could be seen zooming past busy intersections with unfastened containers.

A similar scene is observed on the Ho Chi Minh City - Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway, which links Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring Dong Nai Province.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of Ho Chi Minh City Traffic Safety Committee, said the committee had asked relevant agencies, including port authorities, to increase inspection of semitrucks to ensure drivers follow safety procedures in securing their containers.

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