Training revs up efficiency among Lao transport operators

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Local SME transport companies need to improve their operational competitiveness in the region with the cross-border freight market dominated by Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese operators, a recent training workshop revealed.

As Laos is exposed to increased competition from established Asean operators, local SME transport companies will find it difficult to compete unless they streamline their operations, reduce delivery times and increase vehicle utilisation.

Low labour costs alone do not make a transport company competitive. Their assets must be properly utilised and staff working to their full potential without long idle periods, workshop participants heard.

According to the GIZ Laos office, the Department of Transport under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, supported by the Regional Economic Integration of Laos into Asean, Trade and Entrepreneurship Development (RELATED) Project run by the German Development Cooperation, organised the training course on efficiency in transport operations.

The course was attended by about 30 people from the public and private sectors and took place from October 29 to November 2 at the Public Works and Transport Training Institute in Vientiane.

It aimed to leverage the capacity of SME transport operators and officials to better manage their operations, compete in both the domestic and cross-border transport market and prepare for competitors in the context of the Asean Economic Community.

Topics covered included variable and fixed costs, vehicle types, depreciation, pricing methods, the optimal utilisation of vehicle fleets, and preventative maintenance.

At the end of the course, participants were asked to develop an individual action plan to apply the lessons learnt in their day-to-day transport operations.

Following the training, the Transport Department and the RELATED project will provide on-the-job assistance to each participant in rolling out the action plan in their companies.

In addition, a seminar will be held to allow participants to share their experiences in improving efficiency in their transport operations. Those companies most successfully implementing their action plans will receive awards.

A second training course will be held in Savannakhet province from November 12 to 15.

For the domestic economy, transport and logistics operations are of the utmost importance in increasing the efficiency of transport and logistics operations, which reduces transaction costs.

First, they improve the competitiveness of all goods produced in Laos and traded with neighbouring countries. More efficient transport and logistics operations also improve the attractiveness of Laos as a location within regional value chains.

Second, the Lao transport and logistics sector has the potential to create additional employment opportunities and income for local people as well as to contribute to diversification of the domestic economy.

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