With roads in the country having a short life span, the government has started a strict enforcement of axle load regulations by installing weighbridges at all Rwandan entry points.
The bridges will help implement the 10 tonne axle load limit. Transporters will have to use smaller trucks, which some fear will increase transportation costs because the trucks will carry a smaller load.
“We shall definitely find it costly if the axel load limit is enforced because it will mean that we shall carry less goods for the same distance using the same amount of fuel,” lamented Medi Rutayisire, a long haul truck driver at Magerwa. But the government says it has no choice but to implement the load limit.
“The 10 tonne axle load limit is in harmony with the East African load limit and we are doing every thing possible to enforce it,” said Jean Kanyamuhanda, transport coordinator of Rwanda.
Linda Bihire, Minister of Infrastructure, said computerized weighbridges were put at Gatuna, the Rwanda-Uganda border, and another one will be installed at Rufumo, the Rwanda-Tanzania border. She said one will eventually also be put up at Goma, the Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo border.
The move comes when regional blocs are already pushing governments to implement a harmonized vehicle overload control system in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Media reports say heavy cargo that is meant to be transported by railway lines at times finds its way onto roads.
Recently economic blocs organized a workshop to review the harmonization of key elements and implementation of best practice in overload control in Nairobi, Kenya.
The workshop, co-sponsored by East and Central Africa (ECA), African Global Competitiveness Hub (AGCI Hub), COMESA and the World Bank’s Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Programme (SSATP), brought together more than 50 high ranking public officials and key private sector operators from 15 countries.
Seven regional and international organizations also attended the workshop. While giving his presentation at the workshop, Mike Pinard, a consultant with InfraAfrica Botswana, said that lack of regulation harmonization regarding axle load limits and vehicle technical specifications among Eastern and Southern African countries, is frustrating overload control management.
“The lack of adequate maintenance has resulted in the accelerated deterioration of the region’s roads, causing the loss of precious infrastructure worth millions of dollars, with adverse impact on the economies of all African countries,” Pinard said.
During the workshop, participants reviewed case studies of good practices and deliberated proposed implementation guidelines.
They also observed that overloading of commercial vehicles in Africa and particularly in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region has been an on-going and costly problem for many years.
“We are using smaller trucks more and more now but the unit costs have also gone up drastically. The trucks carry a smaller load thereby increasing the cost of transportation.”