Truck drivers in East Africa are now 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 load limit of 56 tonnes and maximum seven axles for commercial trucks plying the regional road network.
The East African Community Vehicle Load Control Bill, 2012 was assented to and adopted by five EAC Heads of State Summit in Arusha. Partner states are expected to enforce the new measures immediately.
Under the new law, payments of overloading fees are done through prepaid coupons or electronic transfers while eliminating payment through the court systems.
In Kenya, for example, penalties for overloading are $55 for every extra tonne per axle and $2,203 for over 10 tonnes, with the fines doubling for second offences.
It is estimated that with a harmonised legal regime to govern vehicle loads in the region, businesses and governments in the EAC stand to register an estimated $1 billion dollars in annual savings from reduced transport and maintenance costs.
According to James Kivuva, senior assistant director at Kenya’s Ministry of EAC, the law will help the region tackle a serious non-tariff barrier in the form of different axle load limits. Previously, Kenya allowed a maximum of 48 tonnes for vehicles on its roads, Rwanda and Burundi 53 tonnes while Tanzania and Uganda allowed 56 tonnes.
He said the law requires that cargo that exceeds the allowed limit of 56 tonnes will only be released through the railway, which is currently loading less than 10 per cent of the cargo generated through Mombasa port.
Shippers of containers will also be compelled to verify their gross weight prior to release at various loading points.
“The move is expected to reduce inefficiencies on roads in the EAC countries 75 per cent of which result from logistics aspects including legal bottlenecks,” said Mr Kivuva, adding that it will also lower transport and logistics costs and so attract investors, industrialists and new capital inflows.
Previously, the weight was determined per axle and truckers who exceeded eight tonnes per axle were fined, even if the gross weight was less than 48 tonnes.
Kenya Transporters Association chief executive Wellington Kiverenge said lack of harmonised transport laws has been a challenge.
“With the law and harmonised axle controls among the partner states, the cost of transport is likely to drop,” said Mr Kiverenge.