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The Weight of the Law

If the the potholes and subsidence on our highways aren’t bad enough to slow you down to a snail’s pace, then another factor thrown in at the weekend will have would have brought you to a dead halt.

On Saturday evening lorry drivers blocked the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway at the Mariakani weighbridge, and on Sunday the process was repeated on the Nairobi Nakuru highway at Gilgil weigh bridge, causing hundreds of motorists to be stranded.

The reason for the roadblock by the drivers was that they said they were tired of being arrested and prosecuted for overloading.

“We are constantly harassed and our trucks detained arbitrarily over claims of overloading,” said a protesting driver.

Here in the Forum Archives we managed to pull out a report from 13 months ago presented by the KTA, which says that at any one time 80% of trucks are overloaded, and that the problem was dishonest weigh bridge officials taking graft money to look the other way. But this last weekend saw a change of heart “Members of the Kenya Transport Association (KTA) said their drivers decided to stage a strike because of frequent arrests for alleged overloading.”

Could any of this have to do with the new weighbridge owners, we ask??
“SGS Kenya Limited and Avery East Africa Limited are the new managers of the Mariakani and Gilgil, and Athi River Weighbridges respectively for a period of two years with effect from 16th September 2010. This comes in the wake of numerous complaints about corrupt practices at the weighbridges with drivers of overloaded trucks getting away with it by bribing corrupt officers at the weighbridges.”( from Kenya Association of Manufacturers)

It seems like a remarkable coincidence that just a couple of weeks after the new new management takes over and the new brooms are in place that the truck drivers find themselves protesting because they are being ‘victimised’.

The Forum thinks its far more likely that they are just being caught (80% have always been overloaded) but this time they can’t bribe their way out of it.

The cost of additional road repairs due to overloading is often cited by the Government as the reason to regulate, but let us not forget that road safety is also at stake. It may take some time to get the roads in order but in the meantime we can minimize the damage and make those roads a safer place to be.

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