Newly amended regulation harmonizes with regional vehicle overload control

The recently amended ‘vehicle axle unit load limits regulation’ is stated to harmonize the country’s truck loading standard with the regional’s tripartite agreement, Vehicle Load Management Agreement (VLMA) signed by regional parties.
Although the amended regulation being not fully public as of yet, experts in the sector explain that the new law will threshold the permissible maximum combination mass to 58 tons. Similarly, despite the exact sum of fines not being disclosed, penalties have been put in place for those that will abuse the new law.
It is to be recalled that the Council of Ministers ratified different regulations in different sectors, of which the amendment of the long awaited ‘vehicle axle unit load limits regulation’ was atop of the agenda.
Experts in the transport sector said that the new regulation which replaces the 1990 regulation, will be harmonious to the Tripartite – Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC) – standardized vehicle and axle/axle unit load limits agreement which Ethiopia is a part of.
On its announcement, the cabinet stated that the regulation is developed on the consideration of the increment in the number of vehicles and their loading capacity. Cabinet disclosed that the regulation shall curb the infrastructure damage, and protect the road pavement as well as aid in ensuring road safety.
Despite the cabinet announcement not mentioning the tripartite agreement for its amendment experts said that the new regulation has taken into account the regional cooperation which mainly targets to boost the trans-border movement and economic enhancement.
Experts said that the new regulation has considered the regional cooperation which is also part of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
A weight limit is being imposed to control overloading and to make sure, for example, that trucks don’t cross bridges with lower carrying capacity than what the truck is holding.
Experts said the amended regulation will improve the axle load control and impose penalties from the regulatory government body against those who abuse the nation’s transportation laws.
They said that over the past three decades the situation has improved, including the standard of vehicles, roads and technology as a result the law had to be revised and updated.
According to experts, the former regulation did not specifically mention the penalty for over loading, and the process to fine those involved against the law is very lengthy.
“Regarding the fine the amount may vary but it is very insignificant compared with the damage that may occur when overloading trucks,” experts explained as they demonstrated their expectation from the change that the fines will bring.
The new regulation shall have mandates over a tridem axle load limit which replaces the 1990 regulation that was signed by then Deputy Prime Minister, Hailu Yimenu.
In the 1990 Council of Ministers’ regulation article 4 sub article C, the steering axle of a vehicle was stated to not carry a gross load in excess of 8 tons which experts expected the new law will house the same being that the standard is similar to the VLMA.
The former regulation amended the 1962 law which stated that the rear axle of a vehicle equipped with dual tyres shall not carry a gross load in excess of 10 tons.
Sub article D stated that the gross weight with of a tandem axles vehicle shall not exceed 17 tons, where the distance between the axels are not more than 1,300 mm.
Experts said that based on the tripartite agreement of the new regulation is supposed to reduce the 17 tons to 16 tons.
Experts specify that the latest study conducted by the Ethiopian Roads Administration (ERA) indicates that the distance between the tandem axles does not have a significant change in the loading capacity due to that the reduction shall have a benefit for infrastructure safety.
The expected change from the new regulation also mandates tridem axles loading capacity to a maximum cap of 24 tons.
A tridem axle is the international standard that every country is currently using.
The previous law did not mention the total weight, while the current one limits truck weight to 58 tons which was also stated on the tripartite VLMA.
It is to be recalled that Lee International Consultants, an international firm, conducted the study and changed the regulation, which led to the adoption of the sub-continental agreement of COMESA that Ethiopia signed.
Over loading is one of the major causes for damaging roads before their life expectancy and often has an economic impact down the road. Currently, ERA is working to curb the challenge and the new regulation is said to be of great boost to combating the issue.

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