By Kingsley Adegboye
The Federal Government has signed treaty obligations within the West African sub-region and beyond to regulate the amount of load any goods vehicle can put on an axle and by extension, on the road in order to do business within ECOWAS and beyond,
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola who made this known recently at a one-day Public Enlightenment on the Developments in the Road Sector, where he presented the Federal Highways (Control of Dimensions, Weights and Axle Load) Regulations 2018, said: “Sensitising road transporters and imbibing the existing treaty obligations is the only way to optimise the opportunities that lie in road networks like Trans-Saharan highway that connects Nigeria to Chad, Niger, Tunisia, Mali and Algeria; the Lagos- Abidjan Highway through Benin, Togo and Ghana, or the Enugu-Cameroon Highway through Abakaliki – Ogoja, Ikom and Mfum.”
The workshop, which was opened by Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government, who represented President Buhari, was specifically held for stakeholders, including the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association, among other road users.
The Minister who thanked the President for finally signing the instrument of ratification, as soon as it was brought to his attention, after many years of delay prior to his tenure, added: “This meeting is critical to the achievement of our common goal for shared prosperity. Our compliance with these regulations will open a massive door of opportunity and prosperity of cross-border trade to Nigerians engaged in the transport business.
“This is why this meeting was convened; because when President Buhari once said that “we will change our habits and we will change Nigeria,” I believe this is one of the things he had in mind. While it is true that we could have done better by way of massive investment in our transport infrastructure during the windfall of income from oil, this government is now rapidly and aggressively addressing road transport infrastructure repairs, rehabilitation and construction as many of you who travel regularly will attest,” he said.
Fashola, who noted that there is no state in Nigeria today where contractors would not be seen busy at work, added: “The crux of this meeting is to first acknowledge the President is only one man who cannot be everywhere, and secondly, to recognise that we are the actors of the change that is required to take us to prosperity and thirdly to recognise that, the way we use the roads when finally completed, will determine how long they last and whether they deliver prosperity or not.”
In a communiqué issued after the workshop, participants expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for the on-going rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads across the country, affirming the need for enforcement of axle load limit to safeguard the nation’s road infrastructure while also emphasizing the reintroduction of toll gates on federal highways as a means to improve revenue generation for the maintenance of roads.
Realising the damaging effects of overloading on the nation’s road network, participants advocated that all Heavy Goods Vehicles, HGVs owners and operators should abide by the new Axle Load limit regime in Nigeria in line with the ECOWAS Supplementary Act/SP.17/02/12 relating to the harmonisation of standards and procedures for the control of dimensions, weight and axle load of goods vehicles within the ECOWAS member- states.