Regulating truck loads gives roads longer lives

The Ministry of Infrastructure has embarked on a scheme of installing computerised weighbridges at all major entry points into the country.

The Ministry of Infrastructure has embarked on a scheme of installing computerised weighbridges at all major entry points into the country.

The move is a transport regulation measure, with particular aim of restricting cargo hauler vehicles to the 10 tonne axle load limit. At the moment some vehicles carry as heavy as 40-plus tonnes.

Rwanda is not acting in isolation. The initiative is in line with the existing East Africa load limit. Other regional blocs such as Comesa and SADC are also implementing a harmonized vehicle overload control system in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Lack of overload control mechanisms has frustrated road infrastructure development and maintenance efforts in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. There has been a conspicuous discord regarding axle load limits and vehicle technical specifications.

The effect has been unbearable burden on costly roads, wearying them out abnormally fast.

As a result, resources that are already meagre get stretched since roads that would have been re-graded say after 20 years require tending to in a period four times as short.

For the above reason, often times repairs are not carried out on time. And so the roads deteriorate to near impassable or greatly increase time taken to move goods between source and destination.

Vehicles plying the bad roads too end up with a shortened life span, adding to the chronic challenges developing economies are up against.

At the first EAC Investment Conference which took place in Kigali just under a month ago, leaders lamented that on several occasions our development partners have short-changed us on road construction.

They decried the double standards applied in the sense that the developed countries build for the developing low quality roads that they would never build back home – so thinly and narrowly laid. Evidence to this is all over the place.

However, if our Western partners had remembered to raise the issue of how we burden our roads with the kind of weights that in other places are reserved for rail, our own leaders would have walked away with equal guilt.

It is reassuring that while we rebuke our partners for being responsible for some raw deals we have suffered, we are at the same time sorting out the mess in our own house.

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