Traffic Authority Focuses on Overloaded Vehicles


For years the practice of trucks traversing the nation’s roadways, overloaded with cargo and operating with callous disregard for life and property, has gone unpunished; not for a lack of regulations, but mainly because of a lack of enforcement.
But, according to Director of the Island Traffic Authority (ITA), Mr. Paul Clemetson, “those days are over.”
Bemoaning the colossal damage to the nation’s roads, culverts and bridges by overloaded vehicles, Mr. Clemetson reports that the practice is costing the country billions in recurrent expenditure on repair.
The December 2009 launch of the Vehicle Weight Enforcement Programme, by the ITA, has sought to correct the economic ill.
Guided by the message, “Truck Overload Destroys Our Roads,” the ITA Enforcement team has been setting up its mobile weight scales at select locations, and have been screening, stopping and weighing haulage vehicles to ensure they comply with vehicle weight limits.
VEHICLE WEIGHT ENFORCEMENT PROGRAMME The ITA Head expresses amazement at the high level of non-compliance among truck operators. For the period December 2009 to late February 2010, 111 vehicles –
50 trucks and 61 articulated trailers – were inspected. Of the 50 trucks weighed, 35 or
70 per cent were found to be overweight and of the 61 articulated trailers, 25 or
41 per cent were found to be transporting weight in excess of the legal limit.
“What we found to be even more startling was that of the 31 trucks found to be overweight, 11 of these had excess weight beyond 10,000 kilograms. Of the 25 articulated trailers that were found to be overweight, six of these were in excess of 10,000 kilograms,” Mr. Clemetson states.
He mentions being totally flabbergasted by the weight of a two axle truck, that was stopped during one road operation. The truck which, under Special Permit conditions, is allowed a maximum of 15,000 kilograms, had excess weight of 18,000 kilograms. In total the truck and its contents weighed in excess of 33,000 kilograms.
“How a vehicle designed to have a gross vehicle weight of 15 tons could be in excess by 18,000 kilograms and be moving is baffling. Not only was it observed that the tyres bulked, but the actual frame sagged under the load and the vehicle could hardly move,” he recalls.
ROAD DAMAGEHe cites a survey conducted by the National Works Agency (NWA) which reveals that some operators haul loads in excess of 200% of the legal limit. So extreme were the levels of overloading that a 20,000- kilogram scale, used during the survey to weigh trucks, was destroyed in the process. The extent of damage to the scales shows the severity of the damage to the roads caused by the reckless actions of haulage operators.
“Over the years, engineers have observed that vehicles with axle loads of 10,000 kilograms or less effect minimum damage to the roads, as they exert an equivalence impact of one (1) or unity,” states Mr. Clemetson.
Conversely, a vehicle with excess load per axle weight of 2,000 kilograms or more is likely to double the effective wear and tear on the road’s surface. In fact, the transport official relays that vehicles overweight by 10,000 kilograms or more are said to have a 22.5 equivalence impact on the road surface.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Works Agency, Mr. Patrick Wong, also expresses his distress about the impact of overloading on Jamaica’s roadways. He appeals to truckers to adhere to the regulations.
“This is very important because, as you double up the load on the trucks, it means that the design of our roadways will have to increase by sixfold to accommodate this and it is just not sustainable, it’s just not economical and it does not make any sense,”
Mr. Wong noted in his address at the launch of the campaign in December.
The ITA Head, Mr. Clemetson, agrees that the redesign of the roadways, to buffer against the damage of the excessive loads, is an extremely expensive undertaking.
He noted that engineers contend that in order for Jamaica’s roads to adequately withstand the pressure from the trucks with axle loads of 10,000 kilograms or more, the asphaltic layer has to be a minimum of 8.3 inches.
“The dilemma is that a lot of our roads have about 3 to 3

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