Far fewer checks on trucks in Belgium
The Belgian Federal Mobility Office is checking fewer and fewer trucks on social fraud. This is partly due to the shrinking workforce, but there is also less ‘static’ control, while more interceptions with service vehicles are carried out, so that inspectors are forced to check fewer lorries per inspection hour.
More than 20.000 fewer checks compared to 2008
If you only look at the number of infringements detected by the Federal Public Service Mobility in the transport sector last year, you might conclude that social fraud in the sector is heading in the right direction. Last year, only 172 infringements were detected, 6 reports were made and 166 fines collected immediately.
However, figures requested by CD&V senator, Peter Van Rompuy, show that the number of audits carried out has never been as low as in the previous year. There were 21.189 checks on social fraud, compared to more than 24.000 in the previous year and 45.592 in 2008.
20% reduction in staff
“There has been a 20% reduction in staff, which can partly explain the lower number of inspections”, says Minister for Mobility, François Bellot (MR). “The remaining inspectors must each follow up a larger area, which means that the displacements require more time and less time is left for the controls.”
Other factors also play a role, says Bellot. For staff safety, there is a tendency to check less statically (read: inspectors carry out more interceptions with an official vehicle instead on a fixed checkpoint, so fewer lorries can be inspected hourly). Moreover, many control methods have become more labour-intensive in recent years. For example, the tachograph, which keeps track of driving times and rest periods, is digital now. This requires more time per truck to complete the inspection procedure.
Febetra, the federation of Belgian haulers, also points out that the FPS Mobility is not the only body that checks the sector. “You have the police, customs and with the sixth state reform there are more matters that are checked regionally”, says spokeswoman Isabelle De Maegt. “You can only draw conclusions if you add up all the checks.”
In addition, Bellot promises that other methods will be developed to solve the problem. For example, an IT project is under way to make it easier to verify the documents presented. The advantage is that the time per inspection will decrease and also that the truck can be released more quickly if no infringement is detected. The ANPR camera that recognizes number plates can also help with these checks.
Police also check less
In the latest annual report of the federal police, the road police also indicated that due to lack of personnel in 2017 they “had to review their assignments and organize less proactive inspections”. This can be seen from the detected fraud: in 2017 the road police detected 999 offences with the tachograph (-23%) and 1.322 offences against driving time and rest periods (-6,8%).
The transport sector in Belgium has been plagued by abuses for some time now. Many companies prefer cheap Eastern European drivers and consistently use foreign drivers for domestic trips as well. They often do not hesitate to play a trick on labour and social legislation.