Accra, Feb 24, GNA - Government has adopted 13 tonnes as the permissible axle load limit on major trunk roads in Ghana while that of other roads is 11.5 tonnes.
These new figures, instead of the former 10 tonnes, are in conformity with the permissible limits in the West Africa Sub-Region, especially the 13 tonnes, which is accepted by most of the country's Francophone neighbours.
Dr Richard Anane, Minister of Roads and Transport, who announced this on Tuesday at a day's stakeholders' workshop in Accra, said by the adoption, all new road projects were to be designed to accommodate such limits.
The workshop, funded by the European Union (EU), a major stakeholder in the road sector, is being attended by over 100 participants from the transport sector including, haulage companies and representatives of the Military, the Ivory Coast and Malian Embassies in Ghana.
Participants are to draw up strategies and action plans for the installation of weighbridges to control the spate of non-compliance with the axle-load limitations.
Documents to be discussed are the: "Axle Load Control Policy in Ghana", "The Need and Relevance of Axle Load Control"; "Axle Load Weighing Operations" and "The Role of Enforcement Agencies in Axle Load Control."
In a speech read for Dr Anane by Mr John Osei-Asamoah, Chief Director of the Ministry, he said recent research indicated that heavy haulage vehicles caused considerable damage to the country's roads thereby shortening their life span.
Dr Anane said statistics from the Asuoyeboah Weighbridge Station along the Kumasi-Sunyani road for January 2003 alone points to the precarious nature of the situation, saying out of the 486 trucks weighed, 69 were found to be overloaded with some carrying twice the permitted load.
He said also in December 2002 at Ofankor in the Greater Accra Region, out of 445 trucks weighed, 31 were overloaded. He mentioned the damage caused by the construction and mining equipment as exceedingly high some of which had axle loads beyond two times the legal limit per axle.
Dr Anane said in its efforts to control the situation, government had identified 28 axle load control stations nationwide and this year alone, five of them would be constructed at Elmina, Agona Junction, Sefwi Bekwai and Asokwa.
"Also by the end of next year, six more would be constructed at various points in the country", Dr Anane announced. He appealed to stakeholders in the sector to adhere to stipulated regulations regarding heavy haulage and ensure discipline "on our highways so that we can achieve the set road programme objective of Road Condition Mix of 70 per cent good, 20 per cent fair and not more than 10 per cent poor by 2005".
Mr Stefan Frowein, Head of the EU Delegation in Ghana, said in order to secure a well-functioning road network with roads of good standard, axle load control was one of the most essential elements. He said overloaded trucks cause early damages to new roads, which prevent systematic routine and periodic maintenance programming and financing, leading to pavement deterioration beyond simple repairs. Mr Frowein said the life span of a road could be affected by the increase in volume of traffic, overloading and increase in proportion of heavy goods vehicles.
Mr Stefan said the highest priority should, therefore, be given to the implementation of the stated Axle Load Control Policy. 24 Feb. 04