Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the road transport industry in China has played a key role in preventing and controlling the spread of the virus and restoring normal economic and social order. As of 21 March, trucks had delivered a total of 391,300 tonnes of essential medical supplies such as masks and protective clothing as well as vital household goods to the worst affected province, Hubei.
Chinese hauliers facing hard-hitting impacts
While the road transport sector has risen to the challenge of keeping essential goods flowing, the sudden outbreak has hugely impacted the industry. Compared with the cumulative data for the same period in January and February last year, road passenger traffic decreased by 52.4%1 and road freight decreased by 24.8%1, according to reports by IRU’s member, the China Road Transport Association.
Consequently, transport operators are experiencing huge shortfalls in their incomes and face severe threats to their businesses.
To tackle these challenges, the Chinese authorities have implemented a number of measures including:
- removing all road tolls (including for bridges and tunnels) across the country for all vehicles, until the pandemic ends
- putting in place a no-stop, no-check, toll-free policy for vehicles transporting emergency supplies and essential personnel
- providing financial support to companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises and those tasked with transporting essential goods and daily necessities
Borders open to revive economy
These measures have started to pay off and signs of a pick-up in the road transport market have been noted. With the situation in China currently stabilising and a decrease in new COVID-19 cases reported, efforts have now turned to reviving the economy. This includes keeping cross-border logistics flows open.
China’s President Xi Jinping last week instructed the government to implement virus control measures through international cooperation, while at the same time keeping the global supply chain running smoothly.
This approach echoes IRU’s recent call to the United Nations, European Union and other bodies, urging governments to take immediate and concerted measures. The key asks: logistics flows need to remain open and transport operators financially supported so that they can, in turn, support economic recovery.
1 Figures exclude Hubei province