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    The Ministry of Transport and Works has signed a US$500,000 contract for supply and installation of vehicular weighing scales at various points across the island.
    The four scales will form part of the Ministry’s efforts to contain the damage to roads by overloaded trucks.
    Under the 90-day contract awarded to Advance Scales and Equipment Limited, the scales will be installed in the vicinity of the Ferry Police Station, St. Catherine; Harbour View, St. Andrew; Coral Spring, Trelawny; and Agualta Vale, St. Mary.
    “It is envisioned that the placement of scales at these strategic locations on the island’s road network will avert the overloading of trucks, (and) help to reduce the cost required to maintain the integrity of the road infrastructure,” Transport and Works Minister, Mike Henry, said during the signing ceremony at the Ministry, in Kingston, on Wendnesday(March 4).
    He said that the overloading of trucks has increased significantly over the past 15 years, and this has exacerbated the damage to the island’s arterial road network.
    “We need to stamp out the practice of loading trucks with far more weight than the units are designed to carry. Those who choose to continue with their old habits, must be made to understand the folly and the insensitivity of their actions and this is what the weight scale programme is about,” he stated.
    The project is being financed by a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), under Segment 2A of the Northern Coastal Highway Improvement Programme.Managing Director of the entity executing the programme, the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC), Ivan Anderson, noted that the scales are designed to weigh trucks up to 100 tonnes.
    Currently, the maximum load allowed on trucks is 10 tonnes. Mr. Anderson noted however, that based on surveys carried out by the National Works Agency (NWA), the majority of trucks are sometimes two to three times over the legal requirement. “What that means is that the roads are only designed for 10 tonnes, and therefore the damage which is done, to the road is actually exponential,” he said.
    Mr. Anderson pointed out that the four priority areas identified related to where major quarry operators are located, and that this was the first phase of the implementation of the scales.
    Minister of State in the Transport and Works Ministry, Joseph Hibbert, in explaining how the process will work, said that the trucks will be diverted unto the scale and the weight of the trucks taken. If it is discovered that the vehicle has excess load, it will be taken off by persons operating the scale. The truck operator will then be issued with a certificate showing the fines that he has to pay.
    He noted however that the truck operator will have to secure the goods that are taken off, as the Government is not going to take responsibility for excessive loads.
    “So he will be allowed to unload, (as) the law (stipulates) that, within 24 hours, material that was taken off the truck will be removed from the road corridor,” he said.
    Mr. Henry said that the NWA has acquired four mid-sized wheel loaders to complement its ageing fleet of small-sized wheel loaders.The units, which cost $60 million, were acquired through funding provided by the Inter-American Development Bank, (IDB) and will support both emergency response and force account projects.
    He also stated that the acquisition is part of an overall programme to better equip the NWA to respond to the infrastructural challenges that are anticipated for the 2009 hurricane season and beyond. The equipment will be used for other purposes at the national and parish levels.

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