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NMa Not Satisfied with Implementation of Salvaging Scheme for Broken-Down Cars

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) intends to limit the exemption for the salvaging scheme for broken-down cars to motorways and provincial and municipal roads which fulfil an important role in the flow of traffic. At present, the exemption applies to all roads in the Netherlands.

The exemption was granted in March 1999 to Stichting Incident Management Nederland (SIMN) [Netherlands Foundation for Incident Management] to make it possible for broken-down cars to be salvaged efficiently on both the national motorways (main motorway network) and the provincial and municipal roads (the subsidiary road network). Since the salvaging scheme was only introduced onto the main road network in 1999, when it granted the exemption NMa explicitly stipulated that SIMN was to arrange for the introduction of the salvaging scheme on the subsidiary road network with the road managers (provinces and municipalities) and that SIMN was to report to NMa on this before August 2002. From the report submitted by SIMN, it appears that such schemes have only been introduced in a definitive form on five connecting roads between the A12 and the A44. Three-and-a-half years later the salvaging scheme has still not been introduced on most of the subsidiary road network. For this reason, NMa has announced that it will limit the exemption as of 1 July 2003 to those roads on which the salvaging scheme has actually been introduced. This date was chosen to give the salvagers and SIMN adequate opportunity to amend their contracts, if necessary. SIMN will now first be given the opportunity to give its opinion of NMa's intention before NMa takes a final decision.

The salvaging scheme (officially the "Salvaging Scheme for Incident Management" [Bergingsregeling Incident Management] involves cooperation between 8 emergency centres. These centres are united in SIMN, which has divided the Netherlands into districts and manages a single central incident room. The Foundation contracts one salvager per district through a public tender, which is held every three years. The central incident room is notified of cars that break down and immediately calls in the salvager contacted for the respective district. The NMa allowed the salvaging scheme in 1999 because, provided it is actually implemented, cars would be removed quickly and efficiently from the roads as a result. This increases traffic safety and combats traffic jams. The exemption was granted for five years, that is, until the end of March 2004.

NMa has discussed the consequences of limiting the exemption with the Department of Public Works and Water Management. One of the conclusions of this is that the parties will be stimulated to implement the salvaging scheme more quickly on the through roads of the subsidiary road network, which the Department of Public Works and Water Management considers desirable.