Coal checkpoint near Beijing closes on Monday

Updated: 2014-12-01 07:32

By Cheng Hong in Taiyuan, Shanxi province(China Daily)

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A major checkpoint for coal supplies from Shanxi province, which accounts for one-quarter of the country's reserves and output of the fuel, will close on Monday as part of government efforts to improve coal transportation and distribution.

The Taiyuan-Jiuguan Highway Road Coal and Coke Supervision Station, at the border of Shanxi and Hebei provinces, is the last checkpoint for vehicles heading to Hebei, which almost completely surrounds Beijing.

The station is one of the many coal and coke inspection points that have helped manage the sale and transportation of fuel supplies for more than three decades. But recent media reports have renewed concerns over the risks of bribery and unreasonable and unnecessary fees at the checkpoints.

Authorities have pushed to reduce the number of these checkpoints to lower costs for coal producers and streamline administrative procedures amid weak demand.

Checkpoint inspector Fu Ahong, 37, and two of his colleagues directed the trucks into the Taiyuan-Jiuguan station on Nov 29, checking the coal and coke supplies before letting them through. Fu's job includes inspecting the weight and sales permits of the fuel supplies. Fines are imposed on those without permits.

The station was set up in 1995 to levy taxes on the fuel supplies as well as inspect deliveries for any illegal coal and coke stocks. Supplies that were not accompanied by sales permits could result in fines ranging from 20 yuan a metric ton to 50 yuan a ton for coal, said Hu Baoxing, head of the Taiyuan-Jiuguan Highway Road Coal and Coke Supervision Station.

Up to 5,000 vehicles transporting coal would pass through the station in a day during peak times in the past, but traffic has dropped to about 2,000 vehicles, Hu said.

Truck driver Fan Zhimao said that there is at least one coal inspection station at the county level, and that those like him who deliver the fuel pass through more than one of them. Stations can be found throughout a province, said Fan, who transports coal from Shanxi to Hebei province.

Another truck driver, Mou Xizhong, said he needs about two days to transport coal from Shanxi to Shandong.

"I will pass through more than four or five of the stations on my way to Shandong. One less station can cut the time I spend waiting in lines. I can save at least three hours that way. I can also save on fuel costs," Mou said.

Shanxi's coal and coke producers have also been hit by weak demand and low prices, which plunged after the financial crisis in 2009.

(China Daily 12/01/2014 page4)