Posted Sunday, August 21 2011
The legal weight for commercial vehicles using Kenyan roads will be adjusted upwards by 16 per cent in line with other East African countries to ease movement of goods in the common market.
East Africa Community director of infrastructure Philip Wambugu said the agreement would see Kenya raise gross vehicle weight limit from 48 (three axles) to 56 tonnes, ending standoff that has persisted for a decade.
A uniform axle load for the five East African countries is expected to significantly increase the pace of clearing cargo at the seven weighbridges in Kenya, eventually lowering cost of transportation.
A cargo cleared in any of the countries would now move freely without having to be tested at each weighbridge as has been the case.
“This agreement was critical as it will now lead to efficient logistics for transit transporters who used to suffer the costs of differentiated axle loading limits.” Mr Wambugu said following three-day axle weight harmonisation workshop.
The agreement to harmonise regional axle weight limit comes just weeks after a study on the region’s transport corridors by Padeco Limited, a private consultant, last month linked the Sh630 million transporters lose per hour to different axle weight laws.
For instance, the study found that trucks take five days to cover 1,100km from port of Mombasa to Kampala.
Mr Wambugu said along with the ongoing campaign to set up one-stop border post operations in East Africa would reduce logistics costs by up to 50 per cent, making region’s produce more competitive in their export markets.
Kenya, which has lined up several mega road projects in partnership with donors â€” including 40 under construction at a cost of Sh100 billion â€” had previously weathered pressure from her partners to increase axle weight limit for commercial vehicles saying the move could raise road maintenance costs.
Roads PS Michael Kamau said even at 48-tonne limit, the cost of maintaining roads was still too high to shoulder without external funding.
The country, he added, was currently funding a maintenance bill of 40 major roads at the tune of Sh120 billion.
“Our surveys have also shown that even with the lowest axle load requirement, our roads are still vulnerable with most trucks generally applying the banned 64 tonnes,” Mr Kamau told a recent breakfast meeting organised by Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
The ministry officials said dependence on Mombasa port by traders from landlocked countries in the EAC such as Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi as well as other landlocked neighbours like Southern Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia â€” means Kenyan roads are always under pressure even at a lower axle weight.
It is because of this concern and rampant corruption that allow truckers to overload that President Kibaki issued a decree to lower axle from four (64 tonne) to three, reducing the limit of the gross weight of a truck to 48 tonnes.
The agreement means Rwanda and Burundi, which both have an axle load limit of 53 tonnes would also raise theirs to 56 tonnes that Uganda and Tanzania have adopted.
Mr Wambugu, however, said different axle weight loading requirements for each partner state was untenable, slowing trade in a common market launched last year. “Infrastructure services are an inherent ingredient in the integration agenda. We, therefore, need to be decisive on how we want to promote it,” he said.
The Nairobi workshop, attended by permanent secretaries from the region and private sector representatives, also approved the use of interlinked vehicles in the region’s gazette transit corridors without the requirement of special permits.
This type of vehicle is popular with transporters in East Africa because it gives them flexibility in loading, allowing them to optimise on cost of operations.