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Truck Drivers Decry Hefty Road Weight Fines

The drivers whose trucks are found exceeding the accepted axle load are fined between 3 to 500 million shillings. They argue that the fines are too heavy and the legal framework that sets these fines should be scrapped.

Audio 4

Truck drivers are protesting heavy fines for the Axle load at Weigh-bridges in Uganda.

Uganda and other East African Community member states set the axle load limit to 30 tons for commercial vehicles plying the regional road network. The drivers whose trucks are found exceeding the accepted axle load are fined between 3 to 500 million shillings.

The drivers argue that the fines are too heavy and the legal framework that sets these fines should be scrapped.

Godfrey Wasswa, a driver at Maina Transport company complains of exploitation at weigh bridge control of Mbarara through the axle load fines. He says the trailer truck is limited to load 30 tons of cargo in Kampala and is weighed before travel, but upon reaching Mbarara the weighing bridge raises the cargo weight 3 to 5 tons, thereby attracting a fine. 

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Abdul Karim Byantalo, a truck driver, transporting cement from Tororo to Mbarara, said he was cleared at Busitema weigh-bridge but was shocked when his truck was impounded at the Mbarara weigh-bridge. He suggests that the road weigh bridges should be synchronized  since it is the same government that inspects them. Byantalo says the road side bridges are 20 feet and weigh one axle at a time instead of the whole front trailer alone and hind container separately. 

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In 2015 Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) increased the number of road weigh bridges from 3 to 12 to increase the number of cargo trucks weighed in Uganda. In 2017 two regulations were introduced -  the Community Vehicle Control Act and Vehicles dimensions and load control regulation.

But Ramathan Gulooba, a driver from Uganda, transporting rice from Mombasa, Kenya to Rwanda, said his vehicle was not weighed but was surprised to be held for three days."UNRA officials need to sensitize us on laws regarding road safety instead of arresting us unaware of the offence," he says.  "Even when your truck is weighed and it conforms to the tonnage, the officials solicit for bribes."

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Allan Sempebwa Kyobe, UNRA's Manager Public Relations for Public and Corporate Affairs says The new regulations deter errant users through fines and imprisonment in case they are found guilty of offenses related to poor road use which, among others, include overloading and abandoning vehicles on the road for more than six hours. He says UNRA is constructing wider and longer weigh bridges to weigh vehicles faster and more accurately.