BUS and truck owners have called on Works Minister Dr John Magufuli and his Transport counterpart, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe to meet them and find a solution to the abolition of five per cent of allowable weight by cargo and passenger vehicles plying the country's roads to avoid commotion.
Tanzania Bus Owners Association (TABOA) Secretary General Enea Mrutu and Tanzania Truck Owners Association (TATOA) spokesman Elias Lukumay told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam yesterday that Dr Magufuli's decision to abolish the five per cent tolerable excess weight which is provided for by the law will paralyze the transport sector.
"Truck owners are starting their boycott today and we may follow tomorrow. Passengers and goods movement will be paralyzed," warned Mr Mrutu hardly 24 hours after Mr Lukumay said TATOA members will stop offering their services today.
Mrutu said the decision by Dr Magufuli was unilateral hence will badly affect the economy as passengers and goods get stranded as was the case yesterday at Kibaha weighbridge where thousands of passengers and a lot of cargo from upcountry got stranded aboard buses and trucks queuing to weigh, offload part of the excess cargo or pay penalty.
"We warned against this development because we saw it coming," said Lukumay who teamed up with his TABOA peer to urge Dr Magufuli and Mwakyembe to summon an urgent stakeholders, meeting to resolve the impasse.
Mrutu wondered why policy-makers are taking decisions which will affect this country's transport sector competitiveness without consulting the private sector which knows what is going on in the region.
"Under these circumstances who will the local transporters compete with in the East African region?" wondered Mrutu who did not rule out joining TATOA's boycott starting today (Monday). Last Saturday, Lukumay warned that the unilateral decision will cause commotion on the country's roads and fuel corrupt practices at weighbridges.
"Because we don't want to be an inconvenience at weighbridges and certainly not pay bribes to operators, our members have chosen to park their vehicles wherever they will be effective Monday," Lukumay said.
In 2006, the then Infrastructure Development Minister, Basil Mramba, endorsed the five tonnes allowance weight because a joint study with TATOA established that readings of weighbridges for the same truck from Dar es Salaam port to Kibaha, Chalinze, Mikese and Makambako read differently.
"There was a variation of between 1-1.5 tonnes between the weighbridges which convinced the minister to give the five tonnes cargo allowance," Lukumay said while stressing that the latest decision has not even given scientific reasons if such variations are not done away with. In a press release dated October 1, 2013 and signed by Mussa Iyombe on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, it stated that the five per cent allowable weight has been abolished and all cargo vehicles with minimum capacity of 3.5 tons will now have to go through weighbridges.
"The minister responsible for roads has abolished a directive issued through a letter with Ref. No CKA/16/419/09 of July 19, 2006 which gave exemption from penalty all trucks overloaded cargo within five per cent allowable weight which is acceptable by law," read part of the release.