No longer trapped on highways, truckers have nowhere to go

Just as truckers are freed from their long sojourn sleeping their cabs, fright volumes has fallen, as productivity is yet to pick up.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By TANG Jun

 

Cargo owners and truck drivers found traffic conditions much better since State Council asked toll gates and cities to let trucks pass.

“I no longer need a piece of paper to travel between cities,” said truck driver ZHANG Kai on his regular route from Anhui to Jiangsu. “As long as I have a green code and negative CPR test, everything is fine.”

Nothing to haul

LI Huaqiang of the Ministry of Transport told the press that complaints to the ministry from truckers had reduced from over 200 a day in April to 20. But while the road is clear, road freight, over 70 percent of China’s total freight, has not picked up.

So why hasn’t road freight bounced back? Despite sporadic Covid outbreaks, it could be that the supply chain needs more time to recover and so does business. Truck volume in Shanghai is only 22 percent of last year’s. Beijing is at 62 percent.

LI Dong owns a ceramic tile factory in Shandong Province. He told Jiemian News that no trucker was willing to haul goods to Jiangsu Province in April because “a trip to Jiangsu meant a week or more at standstill.”

But now truckers don’t have to go through quarantine, Li is worried about a lack of orders.

“Business is not going well, no one has placed any orders,” he said.

WANG Yan, president of Shanghai Baoshi Logistics said her company has more than 100 clients: factories, warehouses and agencies. Since March, orders have decreased 60 percent and are showing few signs of recovery.

Bad bargain at both ends

Trucker Zhang Kai said offers on freight hailing apps were unreasonably low. He said cargo owners price for national highways which cost less, making the journey farther and slower. “I make no money if I choose expressways,” said Zhang.

Meanwhile, Li, in his tile factory is crying about high transport costs he claims to be paying 2 yuan (US$0.30) more this year per kilometer.

Trouble for both ends doesn’t stop there. The gas price has also gone up, plus the fees for PCR tests.