West African Ministers of Infrastructure, Transport and Energy, on Friday endorsed the provisions of a draft Supplementary Act stipulating the axle load standards for heavy duty goods transport vehicles plying public roads in the sub-region.
A statement issued on Saturday from the secretariat of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, said that was to protect West Africa’s road infrastructure from degradation by overloaded vehicles.
The proposed Supplementary Act relating to the harmonisation of standards and procedures for the control of dimensions, weight and axle load of goods vehicles, a complement to existing regional instruments to monitor vehicle tonnage and improve safety on the roads, will be considered at the next meeting of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, who will then recommend it for adoption by regional leaders.
The statement said the draft Act provides a harmonised mechanism for the standardisation and control of the dimensions, weight and axle load of heavy duty goods transport vehicles and ensuring the control of overload.
Member States are required under the proposed Act to impose prohibitive sanctions for non-compliance.
The Act stipulates the authorised total laden weight or authorised total transport vehicle for each type of vehicle and requires Member States to formulate and incorporate in their official transport documents, a note not only attesting that a vehicle’s weight and dimensions have been checked, but clearly stating its laden weight and axle load system.
Member States are also required under the Act to subject every vehicle prior to registration and entry into service, to technical inspection after which the dimension, weight and axle type should be clearly inscribed on two plates affixed to the vehicle.
It further obliged member states to install equipment and devices to monitor compliance such as weigh bridges, weighing scales and dimension gauges along road corridors including in facilities that generate annual road freight for heavy duty vehicles of over 200,000 tonnes.
Operators of platforms such as ports, logistics depots, rail road, warehousing, industrial and storage facilities that generate heavy duty traffic of over 200,000 tonnes are also required to equip such platforms with the facilities for the inspection of the dimensions, weight and axle load of heavy duty vehicles loading in their domains.
The operator will also be required to obtain a certificate of compliance from the national administration responsible for implementing the Act.
Sanctions for non-compliance include overload shedding and correction of dimensions, immobilisation of vehicles and fines denominated in United States dollars, but paid in local currency.
These will be reviewed periodically by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.
The Act is accompanied by an implementation road map that includes a graduated sanctions regime applicable between 2011 and 2014 when all member states are expected to be in full compliance. This is to accommodate the differences in the implementation of the axle load regime in the region.
The one–day meeting of the Ministers also proposed a draft Regulation relating to the denomination and establishment of the rules for the functions, organisation and mode of operations of the ECOWAS Project Preparation and Development Unit (PPDU).
The PDIU, later re-designated the PPDU, was set up in 2005 as an ECOWAS Unit with responsibility for developing bankable infrastructure projects and stimulate private sector investment in this sector.
The draft regulation for the PPDU, which relocated at Lome in 2008, defines the governance organs of the PPDU, which includes a Steering Committee and a Directorate. It also defines the internal administrative arrangements for the PPDU.
The nine-member Steering Committee is composed of representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, Member States, the Technical and Financial partners as well as the private sector.