By Luke Anami
Weighbridges on the Northern Corridor will not be removed until the axle load system is harmonised across the East African Community member states, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Roads Micheal Kamau has said.
Reacting to Finance Minister Robinson Githae’s proposal to eliminate weighbridges on the Kenyan side of the Great North route from Mombasa to Uganda and Rwanda, Kamau said a plan to harmonise the axle load must be completed before a decision is taken.
“What the minister meant is to reduce the weighbridges to the very optimal. There are is a plan to harmonize axle load within the East African Community and until that is done, we will not be able to tell which ones to remove,” Kamau said in an interview with the Standard.
EAC states have different axle weight loading rules with some of the states among them Uganda and Tanzania imposing a 56-ton requirement while Kenya applies a 48-ton. A law has been drafted that will now ensure axle load is harmonised at 56 tonnes across the EAC region.
“We cannot remove Athi River and Gilgil immediately without putting other plans in place to ensure our roads are safe. This is because Nairobi is a manufacturing hub and exports leave Nairobi to Mombasa and to Kampala. Such goods must be weighed to ensure they are within the required weight limits,” Kamau explained.
In his Budget Statement, last week, Finance Minister Njeru Githae said the Government would eliminate weighbridges on Kenyan roads save for those at the ports of entry. The minister’s proposal is in line with the EAC Act that requires only four weighbridges between Mombasa and Malaba.
“The budget speech proposes a December deadline, but they may not all be removed as not all cargo originates through Mombasa. We shall have to agree with Treasury to capture the damage caused by internally generated cargo,” S Ogege, General Manager Maintenance at Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) said.
“The EAC Bill proposes four weighbridges between Mombasa and Malaba. The minister’s proposal will therefore be aligned with regional Acts too.”
Kenya has the highest number of weighbridges (seven) and roadblocks on the Northern corridor compared to the four other EAC partner states. These include Mariakani (in Mombasa), Athi River (Mlolongo), Gilgil, Juja, Webuye, Eldoret and Malaba border.
If weighbridges are relocated to ports of entry by the end of this year, only Mariakani and Malaba may be left if the plan by the Government is implemented.