ruckers want deployment of more axle load enforcement officers along the Northern Corridor to reduce delays at weighbridges in Uganda. The Kenya Transporters Association Chief Executive Officer Mr Dennis Ombok said this in the ongoing meeting in Uganda to chart forward self-regulation vehicle load control charter for the Northern Corridor in Uganda.
The meeting was organised by the Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA) and Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).
When a vehicle is impounded, for instance, at the Busitema weighbridge, along the Northern Corridor, the truck drivers has to deliver a letter to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in Kampala to get a custom official to disarm the seal to allow redistribution, Ombok.
“In Kenya, the Northern Corridor is divided into sections with the Kenya Revenue Authority officers deployed along the highway not over fifty kilometres from the highway. We send email every time there is a need to redistribute the cargo and the responses have been good,” Ombok said, adding that in Uganda, these processes can cause delays of up to four days.
KTA also raised concerns of inflexibility by the UNRA and URA officials at the weighbridge in Busitema who insisted on redistribution of the cargo even when the weight is negligible in causing road damage. In Kenya, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has a tolerance of 5 percent on the Gross Vehicle weight and trucks are not fined for axle load weights that are not alarming, according to Ombok.
Permit for overweight trucks is another area of concern to the Kenya transporters. Uganda transport regulations require each overweight truck to have two escort vans, one at the front and the other behind. If a transporter has 10 trucks, he will according to Ugandan regulations, according to Ombok, one is required to have 10 escort vans instead of forming a convey that is escorted by two escort vans.
In 2015, UNRA increased the number of road weighbridges from 3 to 12 to increase the number of cargo trucks weighed in Uganda. In 2017, two regulations were introduced–the Community Vehicle Control Act and Vehicles dimensions and load control regulation.
In Kenya, self-control on vehicle load has been in place since 2014, in a move that has recorded a significant success. Mariakani weighbridge has recorded over 99 percent cargo loading compliance in the recent past, according to the Northern Corridor Authority transport observatory report.
This high level of compliance, according to the industry players, should be replicated in other weighbridges in Kenya and across the region. A raft of measures on weighbridges and axle load compliance along the Northern Corridor were merged from the first 14 Northern Corridor Transport Observatory reports in last year.
The merged report, which was generated by the NCTTCA, recommended a joint initiative in carrying out sensitization campaigns on axle load compliance by the regional stakeholders, especially those involved in transport.
The report proposed domestication of the East Africa Community vehicle load control bill by regional countries. Kenya leads the regional counterparts in compliance. In 2014, the country did a serious campaign which led to the development of axle load weight control self-regulatory charter.
The charter was developed by agencies involved in cargo clearance after realising that the punitive fines were not deterrent enough to root out overloading.
The document which sought to commit stakeholders to avoid carrying excess weight, was signed by chief executive officers of 14 organisations including Shippers Council of Eastern Africa, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association, Container Freight Stations Association of Kenya and Kenya Transporters Association.
NCTTCA with stakeholders in Uganda, including Uganda National Roads Authority and the Ministry of Works and Transport, has planned to step-up compliance campaigns. In an interview last year, NCTTCA said that the compliance in Uganda was on the rise to surpass 30 percent rate.
There is a need to establish multiple weighing lanes at busy sections of the corridor, such as at Athi River and Mariakani to reduce traffic congestion, industry stakeholders propose. Installation of High-Speed Weigh In Motion (HSWIM) bridges at busy weighbridge stations has also been recommended.
Truck drivers in East Africa are required to adhere to the harmonised EAC axle load regulations in an effort by partner states to bring down transport costs and check overloading that destroys roads. The law compels truck drivers to observe an axle gross vehicle weight limit of 56 tonnes.
However, Kenya also enforces the axle load limit. Any truck that is flagged for overloading at the HSWIM bridges is required to weigh axle load at the weighbridges.