The vehicles, most destined for Dar es Salaam Port, have been intercepted by enforcement officers from the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) for allegedly violating the East Africa Community (EAC) Vehicle Load Control Act, 2016 which has been in effect since the beginning of this year.
The law, which was passed in 2017, is meant to protect roads in the EAC member countries by curbing overloading.
Vehicles with a gross weight of 3,500kg and above have to be weighed at every weighbridge they pass through. The weight in axle for super single tyres has been lowered to 8.5 tonnes, from ten tonnes previously.
There are also other categories apart from the abnormal load that need special permits. These are the awkward load, hazardous load, super load and unstable load.
Some drivers of lorries moving from central and southern African countries that are non-EAC member states told this paper at the border yesterday that the enforcement of the law caught up with them on the road after they had loaded their cargo according to the previous weight.
One of the stranded drivers, Suleiman Ndamu, said he was in full support of the new law. However, he appealed for leniency for drivers who had already loaded and were on the road when the enforcement began.
“We didn’t break the law intentionally, as we were not aware that were overloading when we did it,” he pleaded.
Another driver, Abdul Mkwama, recommended that drivers especially those from central and southern Africa be sensitised enough about the new changes in the Tanzanian law to avoid inconveniences and subsequent fines.
The law stipulates the imposing of a 34.5m/- (USD15,000) fine or three-year jail term or both for contravening the new weight rules.
“It’ll will be easier for us (drivers) if the same law is adopted in these (central and southern African) countries that use Tanzanian roads to avoid this kind of inconvenience,” Mkwama recommended.
The Songwe regional manager for TANROADS, Yohana Kasaini, said they were working on how to distinguish the drivers who left their destination before January 1 “so that they are allowed to proceed with their journeys”.
“We are working on a legal mechanism to facilitate that as it cannot be done without following laid-down rules,” he said.
The Works, Transport and Communications ministry announced in July last year that January 1, 2019 would be the effective date for the implementation of the Act.