EDITORIAL: Vehicle loads: Tanzania at a crossroad

Thursday January 10 2019

The 2016 East African Community Vehicle Load Control Act was assented to on December 1, 2015.

Basically, it set a maximum limit for axle-loads of vehicles using the region’s trunk roads, and the gross weight of the vehicles.

The legislation was duly adopted by Tanzania, whereby it takes precedence over domestic laws regardless.

Tanzania is a member of the six-nation EAC whose underlying and overriding objective is full-fledged regional integration, culminating in an East African Federation.

But, Tanzania is also a member of the 16-nation Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Then again, Tanzania is not a member of the 19-nation Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

So, when it comes to such legislation on regional transportation, for example – and which are not uniform – which legislation should a member of two or more of the regional blocs adhere to?

As a member of both the EAC and the SADC, Tanzania is in a dilemma. EAC and SADC laws on the road motor vehicle load control differ – especially in the set road axle loads and vehicle weight.

This puts Tanzania at a crossroads – especially considering the different maximum loads specified in the two laws – with the SADC allowable maxima being higher.

Less than a week after the EAC legislation took effect in Tanzania on January 1, 2019, more than 3,000 trucks were held at weighbridges across Tanzania for allegedly contravening the law.

Consequently, road transport stakeholders are already up in arms, saying the new legislation will wipe cargo transporters off Tanzanian roads – thereby reducing Dar port, which serves a half-a-dozen landlocked countries to a near-empty shell.

The government must choose between protecting its trunk roads from overloads and transport business logistics, including port operations.