By Mark Owor and Moses Nampala
THE Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) yesterday suspended the weigh-bridge operations at Busitema in Tororo district to ease the traffic hold-up.
The one-week suspension, follows a story in The New Vision that reported on hundreds of cargo trucks from the Malaba and Busia border posts were stranded at Busitema.
The hold-up was caused by the slow weight verification exercise reintroduced by the works ministry on July 1.
The UNRA spokesperson, Dan Alinange, attributed the slow pace to lack of adequate equipment.
He said the roads authority was moving new equipment from Kampala to weigh the vehicles faster.
â€œWe are also repairing the weigh-bridge at Busia border post. Stickers will be put on the vehicles so that they are not weighed again at Busitema,â€ Alinange explained. He accused the truck drivers of causing the pile-up.
â€œVehicles are not released from the border at once. They wait for each other and come in a group, trying to make us look incompetent,â€ Alinange explained.
On Monday, trucks from Mombasa port in Kenya and others from eastern Uganda, created a massive traffic jam stretching several kilometres at Busitema.
The crisis caused fears that fuel supply and revenue collection would be disrupted. Works minister John Nasasira last October suspended the operations of six weigh-bridges over corruption after an investigation unearthed irregularities in their management.
The service only resumed last week.
Alinange explained that the weigh-bridges are necessary to protect the roads and ensure their durability.
He said when vehicles carry more than the mandatory 56 tonnes, a lot of pressure is exerted on the roads, wearing them down in a period less than they are built to last.
â€œThatâ€™s why a road that was meant to last 20 years lasts only 10 years. Itâ€™s like the human body, they might say the life expectancy is 50 years, but if you donâ€™t look after it, you will not make even 20 years,â€ Alinange explained.
He warned that the ministry will penalise drivers who over-load their trucks.
â€œThey overload to benefit from it. Cargo that should have been carried by two trucks is carried by one.â€ Alinange stated.
â€œWe want to remove that incentive by penalising them,â€ he added.
The weigh-bridges are based in Sironko, Busia, Busitema, Lukaya, Mbarara and Mubende districts. Another six mobile ones are used across the country.
By last evening, the traffic flow had normalised and only 28 trucks, whose cargo documents were confiscated by the roads authority due to over-loading, remained parked.