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Russia's New Truck Levy Faces Bumpy Road Ahead

Protests by independent carriers and logistics companies have led the government to lower the initial levy from 3.73 rubles ($0.06) to 1.55 rubles ($0.02) per kilometer.

A controversial new federal levy on 12-ton trucks came into force on Sunday, prompting trucking unions to complain about what they see as the ongoing “collapse” of truckload shipping in Russia, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Tuesday.

Alexei Dyadusov, the head of the Siberian Auto Carriers Association, said the launch of the fee was fraught with difficulties.

“The system website crashed, as did the terminal in the operator's office; you couldn't get through to the call center, and to top it all off, there is already a mobile patrol on the northern bypass road in Novosibirsk — presumably, to catch out offenders!”, he was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

On Monday, the online levy collection system — its name, Platon, derives from the Russian for “pay per ton” — was shut down by hackers. According to truckers, only a small proportion of drivers have been supplied with the satellite devices that enable the system to track their road usage, Interfax reported.

Nevertheless, the Platon system collected more than 35 million rubles ($535,000) on its first day, Kommersant reported.

Spokesmen for major food producers and retailers, including Mars and the Russian chain Dixie, said they had not encountered significant problems, Vedomosti reported.

Protests by independent carriers and logistics companies have led the government to lower the initial levy from 3.73 rubles ($0.06) to 1.55 rubles ($0.02) per kilometer — the levy is set to increase incrementally, reaching 3.06 rubles ($0.05) per kilometer by Mar. 1, 2016.

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