Goods in transit to Rwanda are stuck at the Busitema check-point in Uganda due to the inefficiency in the weight verification exercise that has frustrated many traders.
“We have trucks that have been stuck there for over two weeks. We expect delays for another two more days in transit freight to Rwanda,” said Drake Male Ntanda, the in-charge of Operations at Freight Service Company.
His warning comes on the heels of a disclosure by the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) communications boss, Dan Alinage, that the exercise has been suspended for one week to allow room for the importation of more competent weighing equipment.
In an interview with Business Times last week in Kampala, Ntanda explained that it would normally take an average of five days to have trucks move from Kenya’s Mombasa port through Uganda to Rwanda.
But the two weeks delay at Busitema check-point brought about by inefficiencies at the check point means that traders using that route will incur more costs in monetary terms and time.
Press reports have indicated that many trucks in transit to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo were still stuck at the border post check point.
Ntanda also attributed the delays to truck drivers who abandon their trucks at a given check point for other businesses.
“It’s a human instinct. Most of these trucks are driven by Somalis that have preferred to pack at the Kenyan side awaiting the exercise at Busitema to clear up,” he said.
Peter Kauju, a Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Officer had earlier told the media that some Kenyan drivers had refused to cross into the Ugandan side until the long queues were cleared.
Ntanda says that in the build up to the weighing exercise, there was a directive by the Kenyan government that outlawed the use of four axle trucks in favour of the three axle trucks to reduce the wear and tear of the roads.
UNRA warned that all trucks exceeding 56 tonnes as verified by the weighing system would be subjected to a fine of UGsh6 million (Rwf2 million) or a 2 year imprisonment.
“In such cases, cargo above 56 tonnes, had to be split up onto more trucks which meant more expenses,” said Ntanda.
Sources revealed that the roads authority had so far impounded 28 cargo trucks found exceeding the maximum load of 56 tonnes per truck.
The Works ministry re-introduced a weight verification check point at Busitema on the Iganga-Bugiri-Busia highway but the exercise hit a dead-end when trucks started blocking either side of the main routes
to and from Busia and Malaba border posts.
Uganda’s Works Minister, John Nasasira, in October last year suspended the operations of six weighbridges over corruption.
“We think the system will improve. The delay was caused due to the backlog,” said Ntanda.
Currently, Uganda has six weigh bridges.