China's austerity measures might be biting slowly but an unlikely driver of economic contraction has been a campaign against the endemic overloading of delivery trucks. Past efforts to penalise over-filled vehicles of burden have had little impact as wily drivers evaded day-time inspection by switching to evening deliveries. However, with China's economy stretching its productive limits the latest measures has taken a toll on distributors. 'My cement output has been affected. My customers cannot find trucks to haul their cement at acceptable costs. My coal suppliers cannot send their coal to me,' said Jimmy Yeo Cheng Swee, a Singaporean who owns a cement plant in Shaoguan, a city in north Guangdong. 'I made a complaint to the Shaoguan government. They told me mine was the tenth complaint from cement plants and steel mills.' Transport by road between Shaoguan and Guangzhou has increased as a result, according to Han Dehan, deputy chairman of an industrial park in Shaoguan. 'Some customers have broken contracts with factories which supplied them, because they refused to accept the higher prices.' Recently in Shanxi province, a China Central Television crew posing as truck drivers uncovered chronic truck overloading and showed police charging fees to allow them to continue without hindrance. The resulting crackdown, which started two weeks ago, involves 200,000 law enforcement officials and 24-hour checkpoints, with 50 just in Guangdong. A law which took effect on June 20, imposes far more severe penalties. 'It is not unusual for trucks of five-tonne capacity to carry 20 tonnes. I see it frequently. Every day these trucks transport my cement. This is how China beats the cutthroat competition, by overloading trucks,' Mr Yeo said. The impact is being felt most in the industrial heartlands. 'Lately it is very difficult to get trucks, and transport rates have risen through the roof,' said Stephen Chung Hau-leung, executive director of Chen Hsong Holdings, a plastic injection moulding machines maker with operations in eastern and southern China. 'We don't approve of overloading, but it happens. Some trucks would pile a huge heap of extra goods on our machines after they leave our factories, sometimes damaging our machines,' Mr Chung said. 'If you don't overload, there's no way you can survive in the market.' The transport crunch had caused coal prices to rise, said Eric Wu Qiang, investor relations manager of Chia Hsin Cement Greater China Holding Corp, a locally listed cement firm. In Shanxi, China's largest coal-producing province, road movements have fallen 50 per cent compared with trips early last month, according to officials cited in the China Daily. Rail, the other key means of moving coal, is also under pressure. China's average daily demand for freight trains has surged to 300,000 from 160,000 last year, according to the Ministry of Railways. 'Now, there's a black market rate to put goods on railway wagons,' Mr Yeo said. Light manufacturing firms said they had not been badly affected. Pan Rihui, executive vice-general secretary of the Dongguan Association of Textiles and Garments, said he supported the crackdown. China last year registered more than 100,000 road deaths. Meanwhile the cost of road damage from overloaded vehicles was 30 billion yuan, according to official statistics.