New Vision (Kampala)

22 December 2012

Uganda: Mombasa Truck Drivers' Strike Hits Uganda Manufacturers

A five day strike by the Kenya Truckers Association (KTA) has led to low production in Ugandan factories as supplies from Mombasa dry up.

More than 235 trucks were early this month booked for breaking weight restrictions at the Mariakani weighbridge 50km outside Mombasa. The subsequent strike left about 1,000 trucks stranded but has now been called off.

"There is a backlog of cargo at Mombasa because of the strike though cargo has started moving lately. Goods that were destined to arrive in Kampala around Christmas may be delayed," said Simon Odeke of Damco, a logistics company. B.W. Rwabwogo, the Mukwano Group general manager pointed out that his company has been out of production for the past eight days as raw materials were held up at the border during the strike.

"Many companies have been affected and supplies of most imported goods have dwindled. We need the government

to intervene to solve the impasse in Kenya," he said.

KTA which boasts of 400 members with around 50,000 trucks suspended its five day strike four days ago after the Kenyan government delayed the implementation of new truck weight laws till the end of January 2013.

The number of trucks entering Uganda each day had fallen to around 263, from 600 at the beginning of the strike on the 3rd of December. Richard Kamajugo, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) says that the number of trucks as now gone up to 500 each day.

"The government of Kenya has given the truck drivers up to the end of January 2013. We have started to see increased truck activity," he said. Under the East African Community load limits, a 12-tyre truck must hold a maximum of 8 tons at the front axle (pair of tyres), 24 tons in the mid-section and 18 tons at the back section.

While the truck drivers argue that fines must only be given against trucks that weigh more than the maximum gross weight of 48 tonnes, the Kenya highways authorities have insisted on weighing each axle of the trucks.

"Cargo tends to shift places whenever, cargo trucks climb, descend, stop and brake while on the road. It is even worse for liquid cargo. There is no way for drivers to redistribute the cargo especially when the cargo is sealed," Rwabwogo argued.

"While we support the actions of the Kenyan government to protect the roads, they should adopt a feasible approach," he added.

The fines for overloading for first time offenders range between $60 (sh160,000) and $2,380 (sh6.2m) while repeat offenders are fined between $119 (sh300,000) and $4,760 (sh12.4) at each weigh bridge depending on the excess weight.

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