Truckers raise the alarm over old weighbridges

A truck is weighed at the Athi River weighbridge. A process to upgrade the Mariakani and Athi River bridges has started. Photo/ANTHONY KAMAU
A truck is weighed at the Athi River weighbridge. Photo/ANTHONY KAMAU 

Transporters have faulted old weighbridges at Mariakani and Athi River, saying in the condition, they cannot give accurate readings.

They say the individual axle weighing system is old exposing trucks to unjustifiable overloading charges.

In Kenya, every axle, which is supposed to weigh nine tonnes is measured separately and the result added to determine the weight of the load.

The Kenya Transport Association (KTA) chief executive officer Ms Eunice Mwanyalo said the weighing bridge is slanted due to wear and tear therefore loose containerised cargo is likely to shift from one point to the other, giving wrong axle readings that are sometimes interpreted to mean overloading.

“Platform weighing bridges in use elsewhere, unlike the individual axle ones give the gross weight of the vehicle while the truck is seated on the weighing bridge,” Ms Mwanyalo said.

The allowable weight limit for a truck on the Kenyan roads since the implementation of the axle rules that reduced the axles from four to three currently stands at 48 tonnes.

But this is exceeded as some truck owners bribe through the weighing bridges and end up on Kenyan roads, a move that has contributed towards the their deteriorating state.

“There is no proper coordination and instruction between the importers and the exporters bringing in the containerised cargo to the country on allowable weights on the Kenya roads hence many anomalies witnessed,” she said.

The government’s move to have the cargo weighed at the point of loading by February this year has not yet been implemented.

All the cargo loading points were required to have weighing bridges to ensure that the loaded cargo was compliant with allowed axle limit from the source, an inter ministerial technical committee on axle load control recommended last year.

This is seen as a means to reducing corruption at Mariakani and Athi River weighing bridges.

Overloaded trucks are said to avoid weighing bridges by delivering the cargo at night and bribing their way through the weighing bridges.

The inter ministerial committee recommended that all firms handling or generating cargo for road transport be required to issue a certificate showing compliance with the permitted maximum gross vehicle weight.

Presidential directive

The committee was formed last year as a follow-up to the presidential directive requiring different ministries to liaise and work out mechanisms of ensuring vehicles at the point of loading in the port of Mombasa and the Kenya Pipeline Corporation complied with axle load limit.

A World Bank-funded project to replace the aging Mariakani and Athi River weighing bridges kicked off in February this year with the invitation of the bids for the project by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA).