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Illegal car designs on our roadsPublish Date: Jan 25, 2014
Illegal car designs on our roads
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A lorry modified to carry mattresses. Such modifications require permission from the Ministry of Works and Transport
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By Frederick Kiwanuka

You have probably seen vehicles with unconventional body shapes on our roads, most of them locally modified.


But did you know that one needs authorisation from the Ministry of Works and Transport to make such alterations? Paul Okongo, a former OC Traffic in Luweero, says projecting loads or abnormal vehicle dimensions do not only obstruct traffic, but also expose other road users to danger.

According to Inspector of vehicles, Central East Region, James Sempa, any vehicle owner, who wants to make alterations on his vehicle, even as small as changing the size of the wheels, should first seek permission from the Ministry of Works.

Sempa says the Ministry of Works then informs the licensing officer, who alters the vehicle’s registration book accordingly. Despite this requirement, some vehicle owners simply get the modifications done without authorisation.

The most common culprits are trucks carrying mattresses whose roofs are usually modified to increase their carrying capacity.

“We excuse them on economic considerations, given the light, but bulky nature of mattresses, but they should alter their vehicles after going through the right channels or else, the vehicle is deregistered,” observed Okongo.

But, even when authorisation is granted, the alterations have to conform to certain specifications. The Traffic and Road Safety Act 2010 stipulates that the maximum overall height of a vehicle, loaded or unloaded, should not exceed four metres high measured from the road surface.

The same law also dictates that the maximum overall width of a vehicle, together with any load projecting beyond its overall width, should not exceed more than 2.5 metres.

This means that any vehicle, whether loaded or unloaded, should not occupy space larger than 2.5m wide while on a Ugandan road.

The same law also dictates that any single unit vehicle on a Ugandan road should not exceed more than 12.5m in length.

Semitrailers are not allowed to exceed a maximum of 17m, while trailers are limited to 22m long. There are also limitations on projecting loads whereby an owner of a vehicle is not allowed to carry a load that projects more than 0.15 metres on either sides of the vehicle.

For loads that project at the rear such as iron bars and timber, the load should not project more than 1.25 metres beyond the body of the vehicle.

However, notwithstanding the sub regulation, a load may project not more than 1.8m beyond the rear of the vehicle, if the projecting part of the load is clearly indicated by a conspicuous red marker during day or by a red light at night.

Unfortunately, these regulations are violated by many motorists, especially charcoal transporters whose loads usually over-protrude on the sides.

The weigh bridges, which have been erected on major highways to control vehicle weights often ignore such vehicles as mere traffic offenders, since their loads are usually light although dangerously loaded.

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