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Chinese truckers get on the road again as outbreak eases

Xinhua| Updated: 2020-03-12 Print

Seeing more and more trucks hitting the road again, Zhou Xunwen, the head of a logistics company based in Southwest China's Guizhou province, felt relieved.

Over the past weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted transportation and kept a large number of Chinese truckers off the road, taking a heavy toll on the logistics industry in the country.

"The impact on the industry is very severe. Truckers couldn't get on the road or come back," said Zhou, who had only about 30 truckers at work out of a total staff of more than 130 over a month ago.

"We planned to send seven or eight trucks loaded with vegetables to Shenzhen, but had to call it off," said Zhou. "We couldn't afford the potential loss incurred by truckloads of rotten vegetables if trucks got stuck on the road."

As the outbreak eases across China, many regions have lowered the emergency response level and taken measures to accelerate the resumption of work and production. As a result, the capacity of the country's road freight service started to pick up.

According to Manbang Group, a leading freight service provider in China, by the end of February, the number of truckers at work had reached more than 80 percent of the level of the same time last year.

Li Xing, a 39-year-old from eastern China's Shandong province, is one of a growing number of Chinese truckers who have gotten on the roads again.

In late January, Li made two trips to the cities of Wuhan and Xiaogan in Hubei province, the center of the epidemic, transporting masks, disinfectant and other medical supplies. Now, after 14 days of self-quarantine, he started to take orders again.

Manbang expected that given the current pace of operation resumption, by late March or early April, the output of the road freight market will return to the level of the same period last year.

The national delivery network of China's major courier companies has resumed full operation in areas excluding virus-hit Hubei Province, according to Cainiao Network, Alibaba's logistics arm.

The company said nearly 3 million workers in express deliveries and logistics have resumed work across the country as of March 8.

To ease the operating cost of logistics companies and help employees with declining incomes, the Chinese government has adopted a host of policies for facilitating the restart of business activities in the logistics sector.

"At present, we are focusing on helping the logistics industry resume normal operation as soon as possible," said Gao Gao, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission. "Next, we will make efforts to further strengthen the ability of the logistics industry to cope with external impact and serve the national economy."

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