No compromise on ending overloading on highways

THE demand of transport owners for a change in the Motor Vehicle Axle Load Unit Control Regulation Policy 2012 beats reason. The transport owners submitted, as New Age reported on Monday, recommendations to the government on Thursday demanding, among others, an increase in weight limit and reduction in fines for overloading trucks, covered vans and trailers on highways. Trucks often carry more than 40 tonnes of goods against the maximum permissible limit of 27.5 tonnes, causing damage to roads and highways and, thus, unnecessarily costing the public exchequer for repairs and rehabilitation. Moreover, the 2012 policy failed to streamline them as it lacked provision for punishment in cases of policy breach. Against the backdrop, the government recently amended the policy incorporating a provision of penalty for errant vehicles, that too after a discussion between the government and owners spanning a year. On August 24, however, when the roads and highways department ordered fines for the first time, transport owners and workers reportedly removed one out of two axle load control centres at Sitakunda in Chittagong. Earlier, they also, as the road transport and highways secretary alleged, burnt two weigh bridges in Sylhet and Habiganj.
Overall, transport owners not only appear to be unwilling to cooperate with the government on implementing the axle load regulation policy but also have so far dared to unlawfully obstruct policy implementation. It is important to note that the government of the day in 2004 set up weigh bridges on highways to check the overloading problem by vehicles such as trucks and covered vans. But the mechanism failed to produce any result essentially because of non-cooperation of transport owners. No doubt, by carrying goods weighing beyond the permissible limit, transport owners earn some extra money. It may also be true that they carry the additional load at the request of businessmen hiring the vehicles. But it cannot be denied as well that apart from damaging roads and highways, overloaded heavy vehicles often lead to road accidents, many of which turn fatal, as put down by various studies to be key reasons for tailbacks on highways. In short, there is no room for any compromise on discouraging the operation of overloaded heavy vehicles on highways. In this connection, the compliance with the existing axle load regulation policy is important.
It is encouraging that the government has already decided not to give in to the transport owners’ unjust pressure. As the road transport secretary said, there will be a meeting on October 4 to be attended by road transport and bridges, home affairs, LGRD and cooperatives and food ministers just to tell the transport owners that the government will want the axle load control centres to become functional at any cost. We expect that the government stick to its decision under any circumstances.

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