Govt to go tough on overloading

Imprisonment, fine to be increased; 4 weighbridges to be installed on highways
The government has decided to install weight-measuring machines across the country and increasing punishment for overloading vehicles as such vehicles are damaging roads and bridges.

Four weighbridges are being installed in four major highways while the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1883, is to be amended to increase fine and imprisonment for overloading, said communications ministry officials.

As per Section-154 of the ordinance, one can be fined Tk 1,000 for overloading a vehicle. A second-time conviction could send the guilty to five months in prison and raise the fine to Tk 2,000.

Roads are built to withstand 10 tonnes load per vehicle but most trucks carry 20 to 30 tonnes, said RHD sources.

The communications ministry has prepared a draft of the ordinance, proposing to fine first-time offenders Tk 5,000 and Tk 10,000 and one year imprisonment for offenders with priors.

The weighbridges will be installed at Aushkandi on Dhaka-Sylhet Highway, the eastern side of Dhaleshwari on Dhaka-Mawa Highway, at Bathulia on Dhaka-Aricha Highway and Sitakunda on Dhaka-Chittagong Highway.

“Of them, installation of the weighbridge at Sitakunda is in the final stage,” Deputy Secretary to the Communications Ministry Shamim Iqbal, who is working with the issue, told The Daily Star.

He said installation of the remaining weighbridges would be completed by April 2011.

Now there are two weight-measuring stations on either side of the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge to monitor weight of goods-laden vehicles crossing the bridge. But hundreds of trucks, lorries and covered vans cannot be checked due to the absence of such stations on Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka-Sylhet, Dhaka-Mawa and Dhaka-Aricha highways.

Bangladesh has about 2.40 lakh kilometres of roads and 15,000 bridges. About 22,000 kilometres of them are highways that are constructed and maintained by the Roads and Highways Department (RHD). These roads and bridges are being damaged mainly because of the overloading of vehicles, sources say.

According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) statistics, about 77,000 registered trucks, lorries and covered vans ply roads. Almost all of them carry more than twice their capacity, which is the key reason behind roads and bridges getting damaged fast.

Overloading is one of the major reasons for cracks developing on the road section of the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge, they said.

In the past various governments including the last caretaker government tried to stop overloading of goods-carrying vehicles but failed in the face of protest or strike and rising prices of essentials.

In 80s, there were weighbridges at Kalyanpur in Dhaka, Fouzdarhat in Chittagong and Madhabpur in Hobiganj to control overloading of trucks. But the weighbridges went out of order due to lack of usage and maintenance.

M Abul Kalam Azad

daily star