The imposition of restrictions on the movement of trucks on roads is endangering implementation of contracts between carriers and farmers, the Kommersant Ukraine newspaper writes. The ban is necessary to preserve the conditions of roads, but companies face considerable losses as a result because transportation is presently cost-effective only when overloaded trucks are used.

Over the weekend, the traffic police announced restrictions on the movement of heavy trucks with weights of more than 24 tons and axle loads of more than 7 tons. According to the active legislation, such restrictions are to be imposed on the movement of heavy trucks when the atmospheric temperature rises above 28 degrees Celsius because overloaded trucks deform road surfaces in extreme heat. The movement of such vehicles is now prohibited from 10:00 to 22:00.

Previously, transporters found ways to around this restriction, but the traffic police has significantly tightened control over the movement of overloaded trucks this year, and it has become unprofitable for some transporter companies to transport goods under the old scheme. "The penalties have increased, and 10 times more representatives of the traffic police have appeared on roads. The number of scales that monitor the weights of trucks has increased four-fold," said Yanina Kucherova, the president of the Association of Agricultural Carriers of Ukraine.

Until now, mobile weighing stations - there were 38 of them - were used to monitor the weights of trucks in Ukraine. However, installation of automatic weighing stations began this year. Furthermore, scales installed at all ports and several road sections are used to weigh every truck.

In case of overload, a representative of the State Land Transport Safety Inspectorate (Ukrtransinspektsia) imposes a fine that the offender must pay on the spot. The current legislation provides for fines of UAH 510-680 for drivers and UAH 1,360-1,700 for owners and the officials responsible. According to the State Automobile Road Service (Ukravtodor), more than 80% of heavy trucks travel with excess load.

Restrictions on transportation of goods at the height of the season pose the threat of significant losses to grain transporters. "You are transporting grain 15 kilometers, you make a profit of UAH 300, but you have to pay UAH 250 out of it to the inspectorate. However, there is no alternative because farmers set very low fees for transportation. It will be unprofitable if we begin transporting 24 tons of goods per truck. The transport price already takes overload into account, i.e. there should be about 35 tons of cargo in a truck," explained Kucherova.

A source at one of the largest grain trading companies in Ukraine, Nibulon, said 38 tons of grain was previously loaded onto each truck, but it is no more than 24 tons now.