According to Pierre Bayihishamwo, the Director of Road planning in the Ministry in charge of Transport, the authorized loaded weight is 53tones in Burundi. But some trucks often exceed 200tones. There is no an overload system control because of the lack of axle weighing equipment – By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse
The N ° 1 National Road (Bujumbura-Bugarama-Kayanza-Kanyaru) is the most used by cars and EAC trucks because of heavy traffic on that road. This one is often under construction because it is always damaged. When cars are running at a high speed there is a great risk of losing their way because of potholes caused by overloaded vehicles.
According to Bayihishamwo, the Director of Road Planning in the Ministry in charge of Transport, in Burundi, road infrastructure has been set up for a limit load of 53 tones. But some trucks often exceed 200tones, this provoking dangerous deterioration of road infrastructure. He indicates that there is not any effective loading control system. “We don’t have enough axle weighing equipment to control the average load of heavy goods vehicle , the only one that we possess is at the International Port of Bujumbura and its main role is not to protect roads but weigh transported goods for tax payments . Everybody loads their cars as they want and they don’t care about overloading as there isn’t any law,” he highlights.
N.N, a truck driver using Nairobi- Bujumbura way for importing and exporting goods indicates that he never loads his truck at less than 120tones. For him, the overloading is not a problem because he is never questioned or stopped about the excess tonnage. “I think that there is not a limit load in Burundi, any policeman or agent of BRA has never arrested and accused me of load excess,” he mentions.
Impact of overloading on road infrastructure
According to Bayihishamwo, overloading vehicles causes many negative impacts on road conditions. As a result, soil collapsing and rutting causes a lot of road damage and breakage.
“The same case is also observed on national roads N°2 and 6. Then, Burundi government is obliged to pay much money to rebuild them. Roads are very expensive, people should make effort to protect them,” he regrets.
He informs that people who often exceed the allowed tonnage are those who carry products from abroad in general, and those who own factories in Burundi. It is the case of BUSECO which manufactures cement, BRARUDI beer, and lemonades, SOSUMO sugar, MINOLAC and FARIZANA flour as well as drivers who take products upcountry.
Bayihishamwo requests the Burundi Government to establish an overload control system so that road infrastructure may be protected because it is very expensive to rebuild the roads. He also calls upon all Burundians especially those who possess their own factories to take part in the protection of road infrastructure because they will always need it.
56 tones, the authorized total weight inside EAC
All EAC member States have agreed on the prohibition of exceeding 56 tones of total loaded weight in order to protect road infrastructures, but this hasn’t been applied yet. “The law has been signed by EAC member States representatives, we wait until all five countries become ready for its implementation,” he explains.
For F M, a Burundian truck driver, who transports products in all EAC countries the law is now effective in Rwanda. “Last month, I was blocked in Rwanda. Rwandan authorities forbid me to enter the country because according to them I overloaded my truck. I transported more than 100 tones whereas it is banned to exceed 35tones,” he states.
F.M mentions that axle weighing sets are available at all Rwandan borders including in some areas of the countryside.
He invites his colleagues to pay much attention when crossing Rwandan borders, because severe sanctions are given to those who violate the law.
“From Kenya to Burundi, there isn’t any obstacle about tonnage, but once arrived at Rwanda boarder, it is strictly forbidden to exceed 35tones,” says FM.
Bayihishamwo insists that there is a project of putting axles weighing tools in all EAC country borders. “Here, there is only axle weighing equipment at Gasenyi border that is not even operational. The problem of the lack of axles weighing tools is crucial as far as we can’t punish any person who violates the law due to the absence of weighing control system equipment,” he concludes.