Truckers form the backbone of the Mexican transport industry. The country has an average area of about 1,972,550 km square and it depends on its agricultural and export industries to run the economy. Auto manufacturing, electronics in the form of semiconductors, computers, TVs and mobile phones and technological industries are the main export industries of the state. Good roads and expert truckers are required to move the goods from the manufacturing plants to ports and state lines for international transport. Internally, the state has a relatively rocky geography with two mountain ranges spread north-south over the state. This has led to considerably difficultly in connecting mountainous regions of the country. In the last few years, the country has also been improving its local and international trading resulting in an increase in the GDP and a decrease in foreign debt and internal poverty.
This has resulted in improved export trading but a few problems have also cropped up with the transportation network inside the country. Roadways in Mexico Mexico is the third largest and the second most populous country in North American and it did develop and extensive road network over the state. However, it has had significant problems linking the main agricultural and manufacturing areas to highways due to the rocky natures of the country. The roads extend about 366,095 km (227,481 mi) and extend all over the country. Most of the highways are in excellent condition and 116,802 km (72,577 mi) are completely paved. Out of these roadways, more than 10,474 km are made up of four-lane expressways while others may have 6-lane expressways. Most of the highways are tolled roads with a large range of emergency features like telephone booths, trucker medical facilities, parking ramps and water wells. These facilities automatically mean that drivers do have to pay a higher toll. In fact, Mexican tolled roads are considered to be the most expensive in the world. However, these highways do not traverse the entire state. Unpaved roads with undivided two lade highways with or without shoulders form the majority of roads in the city and they are commonly referred to carreteras.
Pros for the Mexican Trucking Industry
1. Mexican truckers are in high demand as most local goods are transported via trucks. This has resulted in a 6.9% annual growth in the Mexican truck transport fleet since 1990.
2. Over the years, the Mexican authorities and particularly, Mexico’s Communications Transport Department has been approving commercial driving licenses for truck drivers to ensure better transportation. The testing process for the license is quite strict and completely similar to US standards and periodic retesting is required for license renewal. In the last few years, the Department was also issuing discretionary permits that allowed truckers to carry more than 100 tons per trip. However, protests by independent truckers have resulted in these permits being cancelled.
3. The Obama administration has also approved the long-distance transport of Mexican truckers into the US. There is no limit to the number of trucks that can enter the US. Truckers can apply and get a permit in Mexico and then undergo US inspections for the first three months during their trips to the US. These inspections will decrease within 18 months and a good record will mean that Mexican trucks can works safely within the US. Truckers are also allowed to carry return loads to Mexico and this trade agreement is expected to bring in more than $2 billion in business to the state.
4. Another advantage for Mexican truckers is the vast internal auto manufacturing industry. Mexico already has several local and international car companies based inside the state. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have their manufacturing and assembly plants in the state since the 1930s. Local car manufacturing plants are also clustered around the international companies. Domestic companies like DINA Camiones CA are located in the same region and they make a range of local trucks and buses that are very popular inside Mexico. As a result, trucks drivers can choose from a diverse range of cheap and affordable trucks for local transportation. Hybrid truck models are also available as Vehizero manufactures several models for local use.
Cons for Mexican truckers and the trucking industry
1. Even though the Obama Administration has approved trading, there has been a vigorous backlash by local US Trucking associations. The future of the agreement remains shaky but Mexican truckers have already started entering the US on approved trading routes.
2. Most of Mexico is covered with roads but they are not of good quality. Speed limits on these interior roads may be as low as 20kph but it increases to an average of 110kmph on multilane expressways and highways. These interior roads are not well maintained and are frequently potholed, covered with mudslides and other problems.
3. The high altitude of the state also means that thin winding roads often traverse lonely roads where hijacking is common. According to the latest statistics, 4.5 truck robberies occur everyday in Mexico with armed gangs robbing the goods in the truck along with the truck or the trailers. In the year 2009, more than 10,000 highway thefts were reported with a 40% hike expected in the next three years. Losses to the industry and to truckers were estimated to about $9 billion annually ranging to about 1% of Mexico’s economic output.
4. According to a World Bank report, Mexico still needs to develop its existing transport infrastructure as it is less dense than most advanced countries. In 2008, a World Bank inspection showed that most of the highways required upkeep and highway maintenance needed to be improved. These deficient roadways have resulted in trucking and transportation bottlenecks around cities, manufacturing centers and local ports.
5. Corruption and bribery is common too. Truckers have reported bribes that have to be paid to warehouse officials, customs personnel and to traffic policemen as well. Collusion between hijackers, customs officials and police personnel were common too resulting in a vicious circle of distrust and bribery. The Mexican Government has been trying to deal with the problems related to trucking and they have been doing an above-average job. However, additional work and support is necessary. With the right maintenance and standardization, the Mexican trucking industry can easily expand to deal with local and international trading.