Officials report that striking truck drivers in Belgium are blockading key transport routes in the south of the country in protest against the introduction of a new toll for heavy goods vehicles that some transport companies have said could add an estimated 8% to their operating costs.
The toll, which came into effect at the beginning of April, affects trucks weighing more than 3.5 tonnes. They are charged between 7 and 30 euro cents (8-34 US cents) per kilometer, based on their maximum permissible gross vehicle weight (GVW), their Euro emission standards rating and the type of road.
The International Road Transport Union (IRU) has described the introduction of the toll as ‘chaotic’ and called for an emergency suspension in enforcement, after huge queues of trucks reportedly built up at Belgian borders on the first day of the toll because transport operators and drivers were unable to obtain the on-board devices needed for compliance.
The IRU is calling for a transition period before the toll is enforced to address such “teething problems”. Vehicles not equipped with the on-board device currently attract a penalty of €1,000 ($1,138).
The IRU has also called on protesting truck drivers to lift their blockades, however, stating that road blocks are not the answer to the problems brought about by the new road toll.
A number of transport and logistics providers have added their voice to the debate over the toll recently saying that the toll cost will have an impact not only on collections and deliveries to and from Belgium, but also on all freight or vehicles that travel within the country en route to other destinations.
RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates once available.