The axle weight load policy is one very laudable idea structured to prolong the life span of our roads and help reduce loss of lives through accidents. The ministry of transport and all other stakeholders have therefore taken steps to enforce this policy accordingly.
It is not an understatement to say that such a policy would bring lots of advantages to the country. Firstly, it protects the roads from early destruction thereby saving lots of tax payers money which could have been used for repairs. It also helps reduce accidents by ensuring safe load limits hence preventing overloading which is one major factor of road carnages on our corridors.
Moreover, such policies also give positive feedback to development partners with regards the country’s efforts and willingness to maintain its roads therefore making investments and grants to the country worthwhile
The problem however is that, this policy seem to be conflicting across the sub region, while the load limitation in Ghana is about 60 tonnes, that of other neighboring countries is much higher and the penalty seem to be minimal as well.
The non-uniformity in the implementation and penalty enforcements in the sub region has led to the Tema port loosing significant amount of transit trade to their neighboring competitors as more cargo per truck could be carried on other neighboring countries’ corridors as compared to Ghana’s.
In practice therefore, transporters would have to do more trips to convey the same amount of cargo along the corridors of Ghana as compared to other countries in the sub-region like Togo, Ivory coast and Nigeria.
For instance, a transporter conveying 340 tonnes of transit cargo to a land lock country (eg, Burkina Faso) would have to complete 6 round trips transporting from Ghana using a vehicle with 6 axles with an allowable load limit of 60 tonnes whereas only 5 trips would be completed transporting the same amount of cargo from Togo using the same truck with an allowable load limit of more than 68 tonnes (all things being equal) .It therefore makes it more expensive and time consuming transporting through the corridors of Ghana and this translates into significant amount of transit trade lost to neighboring competitors.
Even though this practice may win more transit trade for these countries and bring in much needed revenue, it would also in the long run cause early destruction to roads and more revenue would be ploughed back in fixing these roads.
It would also discourage developments partners into pumping in more money for road projects if road maintenance policies such as the axle weight load policy cannot be implemented and adhered to in those countries.
In the nutshell, one cannot underestimate the advantages that the strict adherence to such a policy would bring to Ghana, but it is also very important to consider the effects of such a policy on much needed transit trade which is lost unfairly to competitor ports in the sub region.
The ministry of transport, shippers authorities in the sub region and all relevant stakeholders should come together to find a compromise in the standardization of such a laudable policy across the ECOWAS sub region in order to fairly shift competition for transit trade to certain key performance indicators such as ports’ infrastructure and effectiveness, hinterland connectivity, cost, reduced turnaround time etc.
Please feel free to share this article with your friends and remember, and your comments and suggestions are welcomed, you can also join the discussions in the forum.