Last November 19, 2018, truckers and brokers organizations, Aduana Business Club, Inc., Haulers and Truckers Association in the Watersouth, Inc. and Inland Haulers, Truckers Association (INHTA), and the Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines started a 6-day “Customs Brokers, Port Truckers Day of Rest”.
This act is a sign of protest against the Department of Transportation’s (DoTR) directive to phase out utility vehicles including trucks which have been on the road for 15 years or more. This follows the Department’s initiative to modernize the country’s transport system.
But, there are more issues surrounding this protest. Issues that if remained overlooked and taken for granted can tremendously affect the logistics industry in the Philippines and the consumers.
A deeper understanding of roadworthiness
What does the government say about it?
It all started in 1996 when the former Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) issued Department Order (DO) 96-963. The DO bans the registration of buses and trucks for hire that are more than 15 years old from the time of manufacture.
In 2002, through DO 2002-030, it was strengthened by banning franchise extension, vehicle substitution and addition for franchisees if a vehicle under the same franchise is more than 15 years old from the time of the issuance of the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC).
These two Department Orders were firm that the roadworthiness of the vehicle is based on its age and the age limit is 15 years old.
The Definition of Roadworthiness
When you type “roadworthiness” on any search engine, there will be no search results that will turn out a vehicle’s age. Otherwise, it is defined as the motor vehicle’s ability to safely transport people, baggage or cargo by meeting an acceptable and suitable operating condition.
The roadworthiness checklist for every country does not vary from each other. TÜV SÜD, a world-renowned “technical service provider of testing and product certification, inspection, auditing and system certification” has a checklist for periodic technical inspection for cars. The Western Australian Government has a “Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Roadworthiness Checklist” and it contains the same set of items to be audited.
Therefore, it makes more sense to require trucks to undergo a roadworthiness test, with guidelines set by the government aligned with international standards, than impose a ban based on the truck’s age.
Roadworthiness is not limited to trucks alone
Not all road accidents involving trucks are caused by the truck’s age and maintenance problems. It is also necessary to look at the person behind the wheel, is he roadworthy? The roadworthiness of the vehicle and the driver go hand in hand, in the most literal sense.
The Land Transportation Office is on top of screening driving competencies and issuing licenses to truck drivers. It might be helpful to re-evaluate their screening process and make driving exams and drug testing more frequent.
Companies like Ernest Logistics Corporation require mandatory drug-testing in the hiring process for Drivers and Porters. We also conduct random drug testing regularly to ensure the safety and security of the whole organization, our stakeholders and more importantly the cargoes we carry.
Our company is leveraged on “Good trucks, good logistics”. Naturally, truck parts wear over time. Our corrective and preventive maintenance mechanism ensures to keep our trucks roadworthy. It also prolongs the life of our trucks for a reasonable period of time.
More than just a truck phase-out
It is more than just about the truck phase-out. There are unresolved concerns surrounding the protest such as the port congestion and the policy on the return of empty containers.
Small and new players suffer from the delays caused by the port congestion which according to the Philippine Ports Authority is a misconception. According to them, there is no port congestion, but the space for empty containers has been fully utilized.
A large quantity of these empties belongs to the biggest shipping lines in the country. According to the smaller players in the industry, these shipping giants should have their own shipyard.
A win-win solution
DoTC is in the process of acquiring Motor Vehicle Inspection Systems (MVIS) that will be used to test roadworthiness of public and private vehicles. If this is the Department’s direction, it is just fair to subject 15-year old trucks to similar inspections without prejudice to their roadworthiness.
Logistics and trucking companies should work with the DoTR, LTO and LTFRB in ensuring that it is not just vehicles but also the drivers and porters are roadworthy. All drivers should undergo written and driving exam retakes with the LTO every license renewal and mandatory drug testing annually.
Lastly, the Philippine Ports Authority should have a firm action plan and its immediate implementation to clear the container ports from empties. Port congestion has a direct effect on the delays of the deliveries, the lack of supply in the market and eventually, the increase in pricing.
While age can affect the performance of a vehicle, proper and timely preventive and corrective maintenance measures can make a 15-year-old vehicle run as smooth as a brand new truck.
Ernest Logistics Corporation believes that a truck’s age does not define its roadworthiness and will continuously keep proving “good trucks, good logistics”. While we work together with the government in ensuring the safety of the general public and the cargoes we carry.