Tanzania suspends load control law

Saturday January 19 2019

A cargo truck at a weighbridge.

A cargo truck at a weighbridge. The East Africa Community Vehicle Load Control Act, 2016 came to effect on January 1, 2019. PHOTO | NMG 

By ROSE MIREMBE
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Tanzania has had to postpone the launch of new weighbridges that would have complied with EAC regulations due to incomplete installation of the facilities.

The launch has been been pushed to March 1.

The weighbridges will be in compliance with the East African Community Vehicle Load Control Act, which came to effective on January 1.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Transport, and Communication Elius Mwakalinga confirmed that the fitting of the machines had not been completed.

“This meant that systems under both the new and the old law were being used at the same time which led to inconveniences to the public,” said the statement signed by Mr Mwakalinga.

EAC member states passed the law in 2017, aiming to protect roads by curbing overloading. Vehicles with a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes or more have to be weighed at every weighbridge they pass through. The weight in axle of super single tyres has been lowered from 10 tonnes to 8.5 tonnes.

The law stipulates a $15,000 fine or three-year jail term or both, for contravening the weight rules.

Burundi has not enforced the law. Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are already implementing it.

Last week, some 600 lorries loaded with cargo from neighbouring countries were seized by Tanzanian authorities at Tunduma border in Songwe region for being non-compliant with the new law.

Since January 1, when the law came into force, more than 3,000 trucks transporting cargo were held at various weighbridges, and there were numerous complaints from transporters and members of the business community over delays.

The Tanzania Association of Transporters vice president Omar Kiponza appealed for their release, saying that they had already started their journey when the law came into force.

Mr Kiponza said the Act puts Dar es Salaam port at a disadvantage since the limit of cargo weight is not in line with those enforced by Southern African Development Community.

“This is like telling countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Malawi not to use our port,” he said.

Early this week, the Minister for Works, Transport and communication Isaac Kamwele said the vehicle axle load control was for EAC and SADC countries, but the difference is that SADC members agreed to be guided by a memorandum, and so there was no damage to any state.

The vice-chairman of Tanzania Truck Owners Association Elias Lukumany said that transporters in Zambia have written to the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association saying they will stop using the Dar es Salaam port.

In the statement, Mr Mwakalinga said that before the new deadline of March 1 the government will also raise awareness to stakeholders about the changes in the new system and its importance.

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