Vehicles carrying extra cargo pay meagre fine

Roads get damaged quickly

| Updated: October 24, 2017 23:56:20

Picture used for representational purpose Picture used for representational purpose

Cargo vehicle operators have been carrying goods beyond the allowed level by taking advantage of paying only Tk 2,000 as fine, fixed by the authorities concerned for the time being.


The operators are also not increasing the number of wheels/axles of their vehicles, including trucks, covered vans and prime movers, for complying with the required load capacity provision.


Subsequently, this practice has been taking a heavy toll on the country's key roads and highways, according to Roads and Highways Department (RHD) officials.


They said Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges (MoRTB) introduced the fine after a meeting with all the stakeholders in October last.


It was aimed at discouraging overloading by all kinds of cargo vehicles as well as protecting the roads and highways from severe damage caused by overloading.


But ironically the fine has become a tool for the vehicle operators to carry goods more than the previous level. The highways have also been bearing the fatal consequences of rampant use of the fine.


According to the experts of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), damage of a road network is double when a goods-laden vehicle carries 20 per cent more load than road's permitted load level.


But the damage increases nine times in case of carrying double load against the allowable load.


Besides, in that case life of the road reduces to one year from 10 years, which means maintenance and repair of the road would be needed soon after its construction.


According to a JICA presentation, crack in floor slab, girder and pavement causes additional maintenance cost for both roads and bridges. But the damage of the bridges is more than the roads.


RHD designs all national roads and highways with the capacity of taking 10 tonnes of load per vehicle, and vehicles are allowed to carry accessible load on the basis of their number of axles/wheels.


MoRTB formulated an Axle Load Control Policy in 2014, and introduced different level of fines by amending the policy in August 2016 after getting permission from the Finance Minister.


As the move sparked protest among the transport owners and users, the ministry sat with all stakeholders in October and decided to keep a flat fine of Tk 2,000.



MoRTB also took commitment from the operators to install an additional axle in each of their vehicles as an interim measure for reducing damage of the road networks.


Five ministers, including the shipping minister and the home minister, as well as other high-ups, including the mayor of Chittagong City Corporation, the chairman of Chittagong Port Authority and the BGMEA president, attended the meeting.


Officials concerned, however, said the operators did not introduce the extra axles and did not control the load of their vehicles.


"Rather they have been using the fine as their tool for overloading the vehicles with higher level of goods than their previous level," said an official.


The RHD officials further noted that due to overloading, the department's backlog in maintenance fund reached Tk 123.38 billion until last August. The department also found 45 per cent of its 12,000 road network, surveyed in a year, in a deplorable condition.


They also said overloading is one of the major reasons for the situation, as bodies of these vehicles are being redesigned for expanding those in all sides and carrying higher load.


RHD has already taken a move to increase the number of axle load control stations to 29 from six, including at entry points of all the ports, for checking carrying of extra load by the vehicles.


But sources, however, said hardly two of these stations are found operational. The axle load control station at the entry level of Chittagong Port was set on fire several times.


The RHD officials said at present the department has been able to make the weighing machines at Meghna-Gumti Bridge and Bangabandhu Bridge points operational.


They also said JICA has come forward to assist RHD to assess the socio-economic impact of overloading and to provide technical supports for making the stations operational through taking countermeasures and establishing control management cycle.


A JICA mission held meeting with RHD officials concerned regarding the issue in August.


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