As part of efforts to ensure compliance with weight laws, Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Michael Henry, launched the Ministry’s Vehicle Weight Enforcement programme in Rockfort, East Kingston on Tuesday (December 15).
Mr. Henry, said that the programme was “long overdue,” noting that it was not meant to “target anyone”, but to help everyone and bring a level of integrity to the transport system.
Voicing his concerns regarding the overloading of vehicles, the Minister pointed out that this practice reduces the life of the vehicles, increases operational and maintenance costs, increases the risk of an accident, decreases breaking and steering efficiency and increases stress on the vehicles mechanism, thus increasing the risk of failures.
Director of the Island Traffic Authority, Paul Clemetson, noted that despite the existence of the legislation (Road Traffic Act of 1938), which makes it an offence to exceed the weight limit prescribed for trucks, tractor or trailers that operate on the roads, some operators have taken the matter of overloading to an “all-time high”.
A truck mounts a portable weigh scale during a demonstration, following the launch of the Ministry of Transport and Works’ Vehicle Weight Enforcement programme in Rockfort, East Kingston on Tuesday, December 15.
He cited studies done by the National Works Agency (NWA) that have revealed that operators ply the roads with loads that exceed the legal limit by over 200 per cent, far exceeding the load-bearing capacity of any road surface.
Mr. Clemetson also pointed out that the practice of overloading has resulted in huge costs to the nation, where billions of dollars have been spent to repair or resurface roads that were not allowed to last the projected life of 15 years, but were destroyed within two to three years.
He said that the programme seeks to avoid excess and needless damage to the roads and structures caused by overloading; enable the safe operation of trucks and other vehicles within the traffic environment; secure the compliance of truck operators to weight laws; protect law-abiding operators from illegal competition; and improve safety within the traffic environment.
Mechanisms that will be used to ensure compliance, include the use of permanent roadside scales/stations which will be operated on schedule, as well as randomly; portable weigh scales, which will be randomly mounted on roadside weigh bays; and sub-pavement weigh-in-motion devices, that will be equipped with cameras and relevant Information Technology (IT) equipment for monitoring and screening trucks.
The Ministry acquired two portable vehicle weigh scales in September. Cabinet approved $100 million in October to install the first scale at Harbour View, St. Andrew. The contract for the construction of the scale facility was awarded to Tankweld Construction Company.
Being that Harbour View is the entry point of trucks transporting marl, aggregate and shale from quarries and mining operations along the Pamphret Main Road from St Thomas to the Corporate Area, it was selected as a priority location .
In March, the Ministry signed a US$500 million contract with Advance Scales and Equipment Limited for the supply and installation of four weigh scales. Other scales are to be sited in the vicinity of the Ferry Police Station, St. Catherine; Coral Spring, Trelawny; and Agualta Vale, St. Mary.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Alwin Hales, said that the Ministry allocated some $200 million in its budget this year, to deal with the design and construction of permanent weigh scales, noting that the construction of one of those scales would begin shortly.