, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – Trade facilitation in the region is expected to shift a notch higher following the passing of the East African Community (EAC) Vehicle Load Control Bill, 2012.
The Bill, which was passed in the EAC Parliament on Tuesday afternoon will guide the development of road infrastructure in the region once it is enacted into law.
The Bill moved by the Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers Shem Bageine will also set up measures that will control the load capacities of trucks in addition to harmonising institutional arrangements for the Regional Trunk Road Network for the Community.
It sets the permissible maximum Gross Vehicle weight at 56 metric tonnes and also sets a maximum of seven axles for vehicles.
Bageine said that the main objective of the Bill is to achieve efficient and effective control of vehicle overloading in the region as a basis for reducing accelerated deterioration of road networks so as to reduce total transport costs.
“Inefficient transport is a major challenge frustrating the objective of widening and deepening co-operation among partner States. In particular, overloading of vehicles along the regional trunk road network is a major hindrance of regional road infrastructure leading to high costs of road maintenance,” explained Bageine.
The tabling of the Bill was preceded by a Report of the committee on Communications Trade and Investments (CTI) which held public consultations on the subject matter with various stakeholders from the partner States in March 2013.
The consultations were held to gather public views and to understand likely opportunities and challenges while enumerating recommendations.
Among the stakeholders consulted included truck drivers’ associations, weights and measures agencies, revenue authorities and the EAC Bureau of Standards. Others were police, traders and clearing and forwarding agencies.
The report presented by the Chair of the CTI, Angela Charles Kizigha, further observed the shortage of necessary infrastructure to facilitate the Vehicle Overload Bill.
It also noted the delay by the EAC Council of Ministers to come up with the necessary regulations for the development, upgrading and modernisation of facilities.
At the same time, it recommends that the Council of Ministers conducts sensitisation programmes to ease the implementation of the law.
The Bill is divided into eight main parts.
Part One has preliminary clauses while the legal load limits and overloading fees are enumerated in Part Two. The Obligatory weighing of vehicles and the special categories of vehicle loads are contained in Part Three.
The remaining five sections deal with clauses on operations, enforcement, institutional arrangements, offenses and penalties.
The EAC Secretary General, Richard Sezibera hailed the Council for bringing forth the Bill adding that 11 other Bills would soon be tabled before the House.
On Tuesday, the Committee on Trade and Investments met with the Council of Ministers to further refine the clauses of the Bill which shall now await assent by the Heads of State before becoming Community Law.