The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has impounded 129 trucks in one month as it starts implementation of new regulations to control overloading on Ugandan roads.
Overloading fees of Sh3.5 billion has also been imposed on the truck owners as UNRA changes to issuance of express penalties for overloaded trucks in the new Vehicle Dimensions and Load Control Regulations, 2017, this, away from the court fines previously administered.
The new UNRA regulations seek to control and manage the usage or activities carried out on the road, the road reserves and the ferry landing sites as well as protecting these assets from abuse. They were made under section 37 of the UNRA Act on July 24, 2017 and were gazetted on August 31, 2017 under Statutory Instrument No. 45. They were launched on November 11 2017, became effective on January 1, 2018 but actual implementation began on February 5, 2018.
According to UNRA, one of the biggest dangers of overloading is that it damages the design lifetime of infrastructure, with expected lifespans or roads built to last 15 years falling to as low as just one year in many cases. Five of the vehicles recently impounded each had an excess of over 31.5 tonnes. (SEE UNRA GRAPH BELOW)
"From the information collected, trucks that take merchandise to either Southern Sudan or DRC are the most overloaded trucks," UNRA's Eng. Reuben Byaruhanga told the press on Tuesday in a briefing on the progress of implementation of the new UNRA Regulations meant to protect roads from excessive damage.
Byaruhanga said of the 129 vehicles impounded since the start of the implementation of the new regulations, 22 were overloaded by more than 10 Tonnes. Of these 22 vehicles, 17 vehicles (78%) were involved in cross border haulage to or from Congo, South Sudan or Rwanda.
"The new UNRA regulations are meant to protect our roads and not to harass transporters. There are a few perpetual over loaders who have made it their business to overload for commercial gain at the expense of the majority Ugandans," he said, warning that "any truck carrying beyond the manufacturer's permissible weight will not be allowed to go through the weighbridge."
Of the sh3.5billion overloading fines imposed, only sh420million has so far been cleared, but that is from 111 cases of the 129 impounded trucks.
The UNRA engineer said they are still seeking amendments to the regulations to make them more effective.
"We want to amend the regulations to prohibit any vehicle modifications to be made without approval of the Chief Mechanical Engineer; and create an offence for this. We also want the regulations to cover all the driver, owner of goods and transporter including possible cancellation of the driver's license," he said.
UNRA is also seeking that the regulations provide for express penalties for the drivers, the clearing agents, the owners of the goods and the source companies for the goods.
Byaruhanga however noted the steady progress in fighting road abuse in the past 10 years, showing data that indicated a huge decline in number of overloaded vehicles on Ugandan roads and increased number that were weighed.
"In July 2015, due to the reported corruption in axle load management, and resulting from the changes that took place at Uganda Revenue Authority at that time, all the staff who were managing weighbridges were retired. An operation was then launched with the support of Uganda Revenue Authority Enforcement Team to restore confidence in in axle load control management," he said.
He revealed that through a restructuring process, a new UNRA team was recruited in the financial year 2016/2017 to take over the management of the weighbridges.
"During this time, sanity was restored and impunity was dealt with," said, and the percentage of overloaded reduced from over 50% during the years 2008-2015 to just under 5 % during the years 2015/16 and 2016/17.
There was also a significant increase in the number of vehicles weighed from 102,000 in 2008/09 to over 500,000 in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18. He promised that by June 2018, UNRA will have weighed over one million trucks.
Percentage of overloading Road damage caused Expected Road Lifespan
No overloading Normal Usage 15 years
10% Overloading 1.5x 10 years
30% overloading 3X 5 years
100% overloading 15x 1 year