Government makes GH¢3.1m from fines on overloaded trucks

Overloaded truck shedding off excess goods

Barely 12 months after privatizing weighbridges in the country, a total amount of about GH¢3.1 million has been raked in through fines imposed on overloaded trucks. The amount was realized between July 2010 and June 2011 after management of the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA), privatized all the 14 weighbridges nationwide.

The weighbridges were constructed in various parts of the country to ensure that trucks kept to the permissible axle-load limit in order to prolong the lifespan of roads. 12 out of the 14 weighbridges, which are being operated by private individuals, are operational in the country.

The Tema weighbridge station alone, which is being manned by Acod Construction Limited (ACL), raked in GH¢1, 580,490.00 out of the total amount.

A total of 28,523 heavy-duty vehicles passed through the Tema weighbridge within the period, out of which 7,802 were found to be overloaded and were fined accordingly.

This means that the Tema weighbridge station, which is under the management of Yakubu Jakpa, and which is an entry point from the port and other companies like the Ghana Cement, Irani Brothers, among others, plays a key role in enforcing the legal axle limit.

Mr. Jakpa mentioned that lack of education among the drivers with regards to the law enforcing the axle-load limit is one of the anathemas for overloading, saying that most of the drivers do not understand why they should not be allowed to overload.

He hinted that most of the trucks that were overloaded were the transit ones; a situation he said was coming from the port since the goods could not be touched for shedding off because there should be Customs officials present before they could break the seal.

An independent axle-load specialist who asked for anonymity however stated that even though the country raked in such an amount, the fines were not deterrent enough because the cost cannot remedy the damage caused on the road.

He observed that the damage to the road follows the fourth power law and as such the charges are not based on the law.

Explaining the fourth power law, the specialist said if a road was designed to last for about 16 years and all the trucks were allowed to overload, then the road could last for just one year.

According to him, if a truck was to carry about 10 tons but went ahead to take 20 tons, the effect of the damage on the road was equated to 16 trucks passing on the road and hence, it gave it the fourth power law and that was two to the fourth power making it the 16.

Meanwhile, investigations can confirm that somewhere around 2006, the GHA proposed a new Legislative Instrument (LI) to Cabinet, which has since been waiting approval.

An aspect of the proposed LI talks about “on-the-spot” fine, attracting about GH¢3,000 or more depending on the magnitude of overloading. This could be punitive enough to deter truckers from overloading on the roads.

The GHA believes that when the LI comes into force, it will go a long way to address the numerous cases of overloading on the roads.

This reporter can confirm that in spite of the fact that government maintains the country’s roads, averagely, an additional amount of about GH¢40 million yearly to maintain the roads due to overloading alone.

Therefore, if efforts are made to control overloading of vehicles, the nation could save that amount and channel same to other development projects.

Available information from the GHA showed that it costs about GH¢2.5 million to construct a one-lane kilometer of asphalt road; between GH¢720, 000.00 and GHc1 million to do one-lane kilometre surface dressing and about GH¢400, 000.00 is spent on regravelling a one-lane kilometre road.

Overloading on the country’s road network is therefore very devastating and the practice drains the national economy because of the extra maintenance cost.

Joe-Fred Pesseo, Director of Road Safety and Environment of the GHA hinted that a stakeholders’ meeting with the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU or UEMOA) it was agreed while enforcing the legal axle limit, there should be some tolerance level of 10 per cent of the total good weight.

He said with this arrangement, offending drivers were fined an amount of GH¢300.00 and allowed to go with the goods with shedding off the excess. However, those exceeding with nine tonnes and above are fined and then shed off the excess goods.

With regards to Customs bonded goods, he, however, noted that, due to the difficulty in shedding off easily when the pass the tolerance level, they were made to pay three times of the agreed amount.

Mr. Pesseo explained that the ECOWAS Protocol allowed the trucks to be checked only three times between Tema and Paga, and that is why they were fined to pay the GH¢900.00.

Meanwhile, the issue of fines is different in the neighbouring countries. The fines are imposed on the drivers according to the level of overloading by tonnes. However, that of Ghana is a flat rate.
The Motor Transport Department in Sydney (Roads and Traffic Authority) fines drivers from US$300 to US$3,000 for an overloading. In some states in America, a driver may be jailed immediately if unable to pay ‘on-the-spot’ fine. Certain vehicles may also require a weight certificate for registration purposes.
Excessive axle loading affects pavement and bridge performance and traffic flow, it is envisaged that restricting the total vehicle loadings and axle load distribution to the approved limits will go a long way to prolong the roads tremendously and also improve upon road safety.

The overloading of trucks is known to cause extensive damage to the roads, and constitutes a source of danger to other road users. However, truckers prefer to flout the law regulating the legal axle limit.

Overloaded vehicles tend to avoid their lanes and drive in the road, thus making the roadway unsafe for vehicles following them as well as on-coming ones.

Some truckers who spoke to this reporter contended that they would not break even if they abided by the regulation. Thus, overloading to the truckers makes them rake in more money. This explains why overloading of vehicles has become very common on the country’s inter-state road network.

Trucks, mostly from landlocked countries, break down frequently due to faults developed as a result of overloading. Some of these trucks are found turned over mostly on the Accra – Kumasi road. Most of them break down after leaving the Tema weighbridge station.

Owing to the strict enforcement by the Managing Director of ACL, Yakubu Jakpa in ensuring that truckers kept to the legal axle limit and subsequent fines imposed on overloaded trucks at the Tema station, most heavy-duty truck drivers have resorted to detour their route to use the Nungua beach road or other unapproved routes for fear of being fined for overloading.

Mr. Pesseo, who commended the weighbridge operators for their good performance, said there had been dramatic move in increasing fines in the number of overloaded trucks.

By Innocent Samuel Appiah

1 Comment
  1. Sansah Frederick says

    The workers are corrupt and not fair to the work,
    Some will fine you with over high while your truck don’t even pass one inch of the 45m high.
    You must do something about it if no they are cheating we the drivers and even all the weigh bridges workers don’t have respect for anyone.

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