Truck owners in Russia are threatening to set up road blocks to protest new fees for 12-ton trucks using federal roads, The Moscow Times reports.
Russia’s Transportation Ministry unveiled the new levying system, which is set to enter into force in November 2014, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The system will require owners of trucks with a maximum load capacity of 12 tons to pay 3.5 rubles (about US$0.11) per kilometer traveled on main highways. Money generated by the levy will be transferred to the federal road fund and intended for road maintenance and construction.
Individual truck owners and transport companies will be given free devices, distributed through a network of special-purpose centers to be established across the country, making it possible to track the movement of vehicles along federal roads with the help of the Glonass navigation system. A data processing center and truck movement monitoring systems will also be set up to ensure control over violators.
The news follows Russian president Vladimir Putin’s announcement of plans to spend nearly $14 billion on rail and road projects, amidst a slowdown in the Russian and European economies and stalling prices for oil and gas, the nation’s main exports.
Some Russian truckers have already condemned the new levy:
“Our government says that it supports small and medium business, but it is killing us this way,” said Alexander Kotov, leader of the Professional Drivers labor union, in an interview with a Moscow Times reporter. “The measure will make small logistic companies extinct and only large ones will remain.”
“If they want Turkey here, they will get it,” Kotov warned. “We have over 10,000 active members in the union and only a few trucks are necessary to block a road.”
However, other reactions have been mixed:
“On one hand, highway users must pay their way,” said Mikhail Blinkin, head of the Higher School of Economics’ Road Research Center, to a Moscow Times reporter. “This is the law of transportation economy and it works everywhere in the world.”
On the other hand, Blinkin noted that the levy will have a negative effect too. “These payments will be passed on as an increase in the price for goods delivered and that means that we, who buy them, will have that difference included in the bill,” he said.
“It will be difficult for the government to work it [sic] out the technology,” added Alexei Bezborodov, the head of the Infranews transport research agency, in a written comment to a Moscow Times reporter. “Maybe it will function from the second or third try by 2016 or so.”