Kenya urges East African countries to implement road overloading law

Cargo trucks line up at the Malaba border crossing awaiting clearance. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya has challenged its East African neighbours to fully implement regional road overloading law passed in December 2015.

The Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) said seamlessly implementing the East Africa Community Vehicle Load Control Act, 2016, (EAC VLC Act 2016) will protect roads from overloaded trucks.

The law, which was gazetted in 2016, limits weights on the roads with tough penalties prescribed against those found guilty of contravening the laid down regulations.

KeNHA Highway Planning and Design director Samuel Omer said Kenya is way ahead in implementing the law but some EAC member states have been reluctant to enforce it along the Regional Trunk Road Network.

Mr Omer noted that lawyers have also not familiarised themselves well with the law hence the need to train them “to ensure they make their judgments in line with the Act”.

He was speaking during the EAC sensitisation workshop on the regional law for prosecutors and magistrates in Mombasa.

“The law requires all vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes to be weighed at weighbridges and any transporter who bypasses, absconds or evades a weighing station is liable for prosecution,” he said, adding that the law puts the maximum axle load at 56 tonnes.

Those transporting unusual cargo are required to acquire a special licence from respective national road authorities from the EAC countries after meeting set conditions.

During the workshop, prosecutors and magistrates discussed various clauses of the Act touching on offences and penalties.

Those who flout the law are required to pay a fine of up to $15,000 (Sh1.5 million), be jailed for a maximum of three years or face both penalties.

Already Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan have initiated the process of enforcing the law but unique legislative framework of the countries poses a number of challenges.

Burundi remains the only EAC country yet to start the process of implementing the law.

In Tanzania, transporters have been opposing the law on grounds that its provisions on the limit of cargo weight are not in line with those enforced by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

Mr Omer said Kenya has positioned itself to handle more transporters with the introduction of virtual weigh stations in its 10 weighbridges along the Northern Corridor. At the stations, trucks are weighed while in motion, meaning that little time is wasted in conducting inspection.

“We shall soon have all our weight bridges electronically operated to a system that records trucks data in motion and it is connected with a computer network,” said the KeNHA director.

“We are using high speed weigh-in-motion technology provided by Kistler quartz sensors which will reduce time spent in the station and corruption as they would not be manned by human.”

Areas where virtual stations would be installed in the first phase include Southern Bypass 1 and 2, Sagana, Yatta, Kamulu, Ahero, Eldoret, Mayoni, Laisamis and Kaloleni.

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