AXLE load limit and control mechanism that the government has recently initiated appears to have been fizzling out as the government is yet to fully start penalising overloaded trucks, covered vans and trailers at weigh bridges on highways fearing reprisal in the form of strike from vehicle owners. The government in August 2016 started slapping fine of Tk 2,000, which, according to rules, could go up to Tk 12,000, on overloaded goods vehicles but as transport workers brunt a weigh bridge in Chittagong in protest and went on a series of strike, the government deferred the deadline till January 31, 2017, which has now expired. The association of the owners of trucks and covered vans, meanwhile, as New Age reported on Friday, threatened going on strike countrywide the day the government would start realising penalty for overloading keeping to the rate set out in the policy for the operation of axle load control stations, framed in 2012 to check overloading aimed at a sustainable use of the road network. A lack of the full implementation of the mechanism defeats the purpose of checking overloading, which has direct bearing on road network, and the framing of the policy, as regulations are not regulations unless implemented.
It is important for the government to implement the axle load limit and control mechanism, not only to check overloading and, thus, ensure a better use of the road network but also to stop illegal vehicle modification by way of which vehicles are used to carry more load than they are originally designed to. Such vehicle modification and associated overloading are no less responsible for high frequency of traffic accidents on highways. And it is equally important for the government not to give in to the pressure of transport owners and workers as such wavering attitude of the government about law and regulation enforcement makes its position vulnerable and difficult, with a slack beginning, for it to implement the rules at a later stage. Such an attitude of the government has already been seen in the past in cases of the operation of the state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation bus services, on both city and inter-district routes. Every time the government went ahead with the expansion of BRTC bus services, at an affordable price, the efforts fell through in the face of opposition by private transport agencies. However, such pressure, although undesirable but not surprising, comes from transport workers and owners, reported to be enjoying the blessings of the shipping minister, who is a leader of the road transport workers’ federation, and of the state minister for LGRD and cooperatives, who is president of the road transport owners’ association.
The government is, under the circumstances, well advised to look into the situation while it must streamline the road transport sector, specifically its dealing with the issue of compliance by owners of trucks, covered vans and trailers with the policy on the axle load limit and control, rising above any partisan interest.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial