In June, cabinet agreed in principle to lift the ban on Right Hand Drive (RHD) commercial trucks to boost the competitiveness of local trucking businesses and ultimately the economy. The decision followed a study commissioned by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to identify policy options that could help improve competitiveness of Rwanda transporters.
The study identified a number of national and regional policies which left Rwandan trucking firms at a disadvantage compared to their regional counterparts, which subsequently saw cabinet announce new strategies that would help increase the competitiveness of Rwanda’s road freight industry. The strategies included the lifting of the ban on the importation of RHD long-haul trucks.
However, the decision did not render the current law obsolete; instead it meant that responsible organs and technocrats would effectively undertake the process to replace the existing legislation with a more friendly law, through routine law formulation procedure.
Yet some businesses went ahead and bought RHD cargo trucks only for customs officials to deny them entry into the country saying that the ban remained intact as long as the law that provides for it was yet to be replaced.
Needless to say the traders in question are incurring losses by the day. It is a very unfortunate situation.
Nonetheless, whether they moved to import the RHD cargo trucks out of sheer ignorance or otherwise, the fact is that the law that bans all RHD vehicles remains in force and, therefore, any action contrary to its provisions would be illegal.
And, instead of faulting government agencies for not allowing the trucks into the country, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) should rather engage the former with view to fast-tracking the drafting of a new presidential order to minimise losses on the part of the business community.
As the umbrella and advocacy body for the local business community, PSF should ensure that its members understand the law and desist from taking decisions that are likely to cost them dearly due to legal issues they should have been congnisant of in the first place. Indeed, ignorance of law is no excuse.
On the other hand, government should expedite the process to replace the current law that bans importation of RHD heavy trucks to bring forth the envisaged benefits without unnecessary delay.