Dar es Salaam — The government has given transporters in Tanzania a two-month reprieve in the implementation of the newly-adopted East African Community Vehicle Load Control Act, 2016 which has been widely criticised by members of the business community.
The government, through Works permanent secretary Elius Mwakalinga, said yesterday that the government will start to implement the new law on March 31.
He said the decision has come considering the fact that the country had not prepared well for the shift from the old system to the new one.
Passed in 2017, the law aiming at protecting roads by curbing overloading, officially started to be implemented on January 1, 2019.
Under the new law, vehicles with a gross weight of 3,500kg and over have to go through every weighbridge along respective routes.
The weight in axle of super single tyres has been lowered to 8.5 tonnes, from 10 tonnes. The law slaps a $15,000 (about Sh35 million) fine or three-year jail term or both for contravening the weight rules.
But according to Mr Mwakalinga, with inadequate preparations, the country found itself in such a situation whereby both (the old and the new) systems were being applied hence the need to give more time before officially shifting to the new law.
"When the new law came into force, we had not completed the process of laying down the vehicle measuring systems. As a result, we found ourselves in a situation whereby we were making use of both - the old and the new - laws. As such, and due to the importance of creating public awareness on the systems, we have to continue with the old system until March 1, 2019," he said.
Transporters cordially welcomed the statement yesterday, with the Tanzania Association of Transporters' vice president Omar Kiponza saying they received the government's decision positively.
He said the grace period would provide a chance for them to reorganise.
"This is indeed good news but we would really like to see the government considers our concerns by extending the period to at least one or two years so that we can be able to replace the current trailers with the ones that are needed by the law," said Mr Kiponza. Transporters have been complaining that the law will not only kick them out of the business but also make the Dar es Salaam Port less attractive, especially to goods destined for the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states.
"This is as good as telling countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia and Malawi not to use our port," Kiponza told The Citizen in a telephone interview yesterday.
The vice chairman for Tanzania Truck Owners Association (Tatoa), Mr Elias Lukumay, said last week that Tanzania has every reason to prioritise Sadc because up to 70 per cent of goods passing through the Port of Dar es Salaam are destined for the DRC, Zambia, Malawi and partly, Zimbabwe.