Trucks impounded at Mbarara weigh-bridge on Thursday over axle weigh fines.

The East African Community member states a few years ago set the axle load limit to 56 tonnes for commercial vehicles plying the regional road network. The drivers whose trucks are found exceeding the accepted axle load are fined. The drivers argue that the fines are too heavy.

Weigh bridge controllers at Mbarara station; have since Monday impounded over 40 trucks. This prompted the angry drivers to block other trucks from entering the weigh- bridge by packing their trucks on side-ways of the road on Wednesday night causing traffic jam.

The Mbarara security officials headed by the District Internal Security officer (DISO), Lt. Arthur Mwesigye, had to intervene to settle the matter.

The drivers charged that weigh bridge controllers at Mbarara station were exploiting them through the axle load fines.

Orada Manyala, a truck driver, transporting fuel from Kenya to Mbarara, said he was cleared at Busitema weigh-bridge but was shocked when his truck was impounded at the Mbarara weigh-bridge.

Following a meeting with Lt Mwesigye, and Uganda National Roads Authority officials, the drivers agreed to open for other motorists.

Mwesigye urged UNRA officials to conduct sensitization meeting for the drivers on the 2004 load control act.

However, Asaph Abeneitwe, the Mbarara UNRA station engineer, said the drivers exceeding the permitted axle weigh will still be taken to court.

What drivers say

Moses Turatsinze, a driver from Rwanda, 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 than arresting us unaware of the offence.

Mohamad Noor, transporting fuel from Mombasa Kenya to Rwanda, said he only know they were weighing gross at the weigh-bridge from Busitema and other weigh-bridges  but does not know why the law changes when they reach at Mbarara weigh-bridge. The transport ministry needs to check its operations with same laws.

James Ntururuma,a Mukwano Industries driver, works and transport minister, Eng. Abraham James  Byandala,  said that they should not charge the truck below one tone  when we had a meeting with him at Papa Paul Memorial  centre in Ndeba last month but we are surprised they are still charging us sh500,000 in court for only 500kgs.

Abdu Lule, driver with Petro city, who had fuel, said UNRA and weigh-bridge controllers should revise the law and set a fixed penalty for gross and axle weigh paid at weigh- bridge centre instead of spending days going to court and find when the magistrate  not in court. We don’t know this axle weigh penalty and government should sensitize us for good working relationship.

By Fred Turyakira, The New Vision

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