As freight transport volumes on the Continent grow by 5 to 7% per year, axle overload is identified as major culprit of road degradation in Africa. Despite the adoption, in the past two decades of axle load control regulations in most of the regional economic communities (RECs), most African countries have only very recently started to understand the need to enforce strict control of regulations. To move forth with an economic emergence enabled by sustainable transport (Infrastructure, etc.), effective control of the axle load is a big challenge. Axle overload consequences include early and accelerated deterioration of roads, road mortality and high transportation costs in Africa.
Road transport is a key trade enabler, supporting 90% of the movement of people and goods and accounting for more than 10% of GDP.While there is little available data on volumes transported, it is estimated that they are increasing by 5% to 7% each year.
Yet the roads are severely mistreated. On the continent, roads planned to last 15-20 years are totally deteriorated after 5-7 years due to overloaded trucks and lack of routine maintenance. Good roads are a must to boost development momentum at continental level and promote both internal and external trade.
Hence the need to enforce axle load regulations in Africa.
Axle load is the maximum load allowed on each axle of a given vehicle depending on the characteristics of the transport infrastructure. This load depends on the total weight of the vehicle, the number of axles and their position over the length of the vehicle. This concept is important for the maintenance of both road and rail transport networks and is generally regulated.
Thus, since the 2000s, through their respective RECs, African countries have begun to adopt regulations to combat the failure to respect the axle load. The aim is to harmonize standards and procedures for checking the gauge, weight and axle load of freight vehicles in the Member States.
In practice, the decisions and recommendations adopted by the communities have not been enforced. Overloading practices remain a common phenomenon on the continent, with dire consequences for the roads. Since the end of the last decade, however, a trend reversal has emerged, looking to improve compliance with axle load standards.
An overloaded truck
Enforcing axle load regulations to curb road deterioration.
In Burkina, an observation campaign conducted in mid-2007 by SITRASS recorded 62% of the vehicles weighed on the RN5 (on the Ouagadougou-Tema corridor) in overload, by an average excess of 60%. The SITRASS study on the impact of surcharges estimated maintenance financing needs for the Burkinabe road network with the overloads at CFAF 61 billion (€ 93 million) per year. If axle loads were complied with, this amount would be reduced by more than half to 31 billion FCFA (47 million euros).
Axle overload costs CFAF 45 billion (€70 million) annually to the State of Senegal, according to a study conducted by the Directorate of Roads and quoted by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Land Transport and Access, Aubin Jules Sagna. At least 50% of heavy goods vehicles in Senegal far exceed the regulatory limits for axle load.
According to Nicholus Kithinji, general manager of Avery East Africa (AEA), a major supplier of bridges in Kenya, "The main cause of road deterioration is overload, costing hundreds of millions of shillings. A truck that is loaded 10% more than it should causes 50% more damage to the road than a compliant truck. In 2015, 92 billion Kenyan shillings ($ 900 million) were used for road maintenance in Kenya”.
This alarming observation triggered a reaction. Regulations, which until now were only theoretical, began to be implemented in mid-2009, both to address road safety issues and to preserve the infrastructure. According to Mr. Sagna: "It is therefore urgent to act, because if these overload levels were maintained, the use life of many African roads will be drastically reduced from 15 to 5 or even to three years". This decision was strengthened by development partners (EU, JICA, AfDB) trying to support countries in the development process.
In West Africa, axle load regulation implementation requires awareness-raising campaigns, enforcement and setting up of modern weighing stations.
In West Africa, ECOWAS and UEMOA are increasingly enforcing member state compliance with axle load standards. Niger is the first country to have controlled and fined overloaded trucks entering its territory. Ghana controls axle load preventively in the ports of Tema and Takoradi, to prevent trucks from being blocked by other countries. In Senegal for example, a total of 80 million CFA (€ 120,000) is earmarked to fund activities related to axle load control: awareness campaigns, acquisition of software dedicated to the analysis and monitoring of the weighing data and audit of the concession contract for the control of the axle load.
In Côte d'Ivoire, the Abidjan Port Authority, via the Abidjan terminal, has been equipped with an axle weighing system since April 2017, in accordance with the provisions of Regulation No. 14/2005. / UEMOA enforcing " axle load control on all platforms handling over 200,000 tons of goods". This ultra-robust, handy axle weighing scale system issues weight receipts for heavy load trucks, trailers, cars, tractors, etc.
In total, all the UEMOA countries (ECOWAS) have entered the active phase of repression against excess charges since 2016. In accordance with Regulation 14 of the Union (R14), a fine of 20,000 CFA (30€)/ ton for internal transport and 60,000 CFA (90€)/ additional for international transport is fixed.
Afrique Pesage, a key company in the control of axle load in West Africa
The Africa weighing group, a structure created to respond to Africa's needs for quality control of road and axle overload has been present in ECOWAS countries since 2012. As a solution, this company provides preventive repressive and deterrent axle load control system, collecting taxes on the kilo of overload. It operates via concession or leasing contracts. This new overload control system meets the requirements of Directive No. 14 and several modern axle load control stations are implemented on the corridors in the member countries.
Afrique pesage S A Sénégal
Central Africa: CEMA struggles to enforce axle load regulations
Despite the construction of several weighing stations in recent years on the roads in Cameroon and the DRC, compliance is very low in the region. Controls are not performed and the road assets are at risk. As a certain number of shortcomings were noted on the current mechanical systems, a study was carried out to identify actions to be taken to operate a complete automation of the road weighing systems. According to the Cameroonian Road Maintenance Fund, if the government hopes to increase the portion of the national asphalt road network from 10% currently to 17% by 2020, collection of revenue at toll booths and weighing stations in the country, axle tax and car stickers will have to be implemented.
Eastern and Southern Africa (CAE, SADC and COMESA): towards a new approach to vehicle overload control
The issue of vehicle overload and the urgent need for its effective control have been under review by the Regional Economic Communities ( EAC, COMESA and SADC) - jointly and henceforth referred to as Tripartite Region - for more than two decades. Based on extensive cross cutting consultations with public and private sector actors in the tripartite region in 2011, a reform strategy for the control of vehicle overload has emerged through the Trade Facilitation and Trade Facilitation Project. CAE transport (EATTFP). This initiative, which is coordinated by EAC on behalf of the EAC / COMESA / SADC tripartite alliance, led to the completion of the Study for the Harmonization of Vehicle Overload Control in the Community of East Africa in August 2011. The recommendations of the study were adopted by all EAC Partner States at a tripartite meeting held in Nairobi from 17-19 August 2011 and are a major step towards wider regional harmonization of vehicle overload control in the ESA region.
Key aspects of this new approach to overload control promulgated in the ESA region include: strategic deployment of weigh stations along regional corridors using appropriate and high-speed weighing equipment (dynamic weighing combined with static weighing, digital weigh station interconnection through a central control station to monitor various aspects of overload control, including the comparison of results between weighing stations and the analysis of time series data to detect any discrepancy related to fraud.
In the Maghreb region, Morocco sets up radars against truck overload
The fight against truck overloading is one of the priorities of the Moroccan Ministry of Transport. To carry out effective controls, 5 stationary truck-weighing stations are operating at national level. These are located on the main traffic axes between the transmitting and receiving centers. The procedure consists of a pre-selection of trucks that are overloaded. On the roadway, sensors measure the approximate weight of the vehicle. When an authorized threshold is exceeded, it is automatically reported to the controllers who intercept the truck. Accurate weighing is then performed. The fine is doubled when the total weight of the vehicle exceeds the set threshold and when the load is badly distributed. There are also so-called "mobile" stations. The ministry currently has 50 mobile scales.
Axle load control strategies in the transport of goods are being implemented in the RECs. These include harmonization of standards, installation of modern weighing stations, awareness campaigns and repression with penalties. Despite the inertia observed in some regions such as CEMAC, the active fight against overload is an emerging trend in most countries of the continent. This bodes well for a promising future for its application in favor of the desired sustainable transport.
AUTHOR : Aurélie KOUASSI
STATUS : Web journalist
RELEASE DATE : 02-05-2018
TYPE : Dossier
N° : 04-2018
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