Mexico’s trucking industry is shrinking due to insecurity on the nation’s highways.
The president of a national trucking association told a press conference yesterday that 15 trucking companies that hauled fuel for the state oil company Pemex have ceased operations due to insecurity.
Canacar chief Enrique González Muñoz said the number of firms had declined by 15% to 145.
He explained that truckers are subject to assault with weapons against drivers, paint thrown at windscreens to force the drivers to stop, rocks thrown at the trucks and and false checkpoints manned by thieves posing as police officers.
The situation has steadily worsened, taking approximately 700 trucks out of circulation between 2014 and 2017. Tanker truck theft rose 92% in that period. In the first five months of this year, robberies were up 14% over the same period last year.
González said each truck generates five jobs, meaning that 3,500 direct sources of employment were lost. The figure can be up to four times higher if indirect jobs are taken into consideration.
Canacar members explained that on average 16 tanker trucks carrying Pemex fuels are targeted every month by thieves. Each tanker carries 62,000 liters of fuel with a value of about US $1 million.
The truckers charged that the party least concerned with resolving the situation is Pemex itself. It receives the insurance money covering the lost fuel but the truckers must pay the deductible of $10,000 per event.
“Pemex doesn’t lose anything, and that’s why it doesn’t care; it is the only client we pay the deductible for, as if we were responsible,” said Canacar vice-president Refugio Muñoz López.
He added that elevated operating costs have to be added to the losses caused by insecurity because Pemex has made minimal adjustments to its payment structure.
Uriel Joffre Vega, a member of the hydrocarbons committee at Canacar, said the situation has not improved despite the association having “reported in a timely manner” the routes where most robberies occur.
Gónzález added that the thefts put the country’s fuel supply at risk, as his members distribute 30% of it.