Agreement Signed For Heavy Vehicle Regulation Changes

A memorandum of understanding was signed yesterday between the Fiji Roads Authority, Land Transport Authority and Road Haulage Association. The MOU is based on imposing of a legally-recognised weight for vehicles
03 Nov 2016 12:00
Agreement Signed For Heavy Vehicle Regulation Changes
From left: Fiji Roads Authority(FRA) chief executive John Hutchinson, Land Transport Authority(LTA) acting chief executive Aptinko Vaurasi and Road Haulage Association president Hector Smith during the MOU signing at the FRA office in Suva yesterday. Photo: KATHRIN KRISHNA

A memorandum of understanding was signed yesterday between the Fiji Roads Authority, Land Transport Authority and Road Haulage Association.

The MOU is based on imposing of a legally-recognised weight for vehicles under Regulation 83 of the Land Transport (Vehicle Registration and Construction) Regulations 2000.

FRA chief executive, John Hutchinson, said the parties have agreed to work cooperatively to comply with the new legislation.

“Also that we will also be involved in enforcement and monitoring of the legislation and the weights of vehicles,” he said.

Essentially what the changes in Legislation means is there will be changes on how vehicle weights are measured.

Mr Hutchinson said: “Basically it is a change in the way the LTA assesses vehicle suitability on the road and enforce that suitability.

“We are moving from gross vehicle mass to a system to assessing vehicles based on axle load and axle spacing.

“We are encouraging operators to bring in articulated vehicles that have multiple axles which can spread the load.”

Mr Hutchinson said they are encouraging operators to bring articulated vehicle with multiple axles that spread the load across the vehicles.

There is transitional arrangement that has been agreed to before the changes are introduced.

Mr Hutchinson said the industry has until December 31, 2017 to move to the new regulations.

“Even between now and then and January 2018, people who break the transitional rules or the new rules, will be prosecuted,” he emphasised.

He pointed that vast majority of transport operators and members of the road haulage association endeavour to do the right thing.

“However, there are a few road operators who consistently do the wrong thing,” he said.

“We know who they are and they have been caught many times and they are on notice from LTA and Ministry. Continued breaches on the law will result in severe punishments.”


Industry response

Permanent Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, Paul Bayley, said the agreement was a result of months of work.

“We have come together gradually and collaboratively to work on what is the best way to handle trucks and movement of heavy lorries in an around and across Fiji.

“At the moment there is a large number of operators using our roads with vehicles which are overloaded. The cost to the economy and the roading network is extremely high.

“What we have come up with is a practical solution. So this is a very good industry response in dealing with this problem for Fiji.”

Mr Hutchinson also stressed overloading of vehicles causes significant damage to our road infrastructure that is a cost to taxpayers.

“We need to manage it and we need to remove overloading from the road network as quickly and efficiently as possible and this is the first step in that process.”


The fleets

Under the new legislation, there would be some vehicle operators who might need to modify their trucks or get a completely new fleet.

Mr Hutchinson said there are very large 10 and 12 wheeler Chinese heavy duty dump trucks.

“Those are examples of heavy duty off road vehicles. They are designed for using at mine sites etc. They were not designed to be used on roads.

“For a range of reasons, they were allowed to be imported into the country.

“The capacity of those particular vehicles is such, they can be two or three times above the legal road limit. They are grossly overloaded.

“Even under the new legislation, they will continue to be grossly overloaded.”

As a consequence, Government is moving to ban the importation of those particular vehicles and require the operators of the existing vehicles in the country to modify them.

That modification will require them to cut the beam in half to reduce the carrying capacity of the truck.

The parties said that becomes the operator’s decision whether the vehicle is then economical to run in the cartage business.

“In majority of the cases, those vehicles will become uneconomical and will gradually be phased out,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“There are a number of other vehicles which don’t meet specifications and never have met specifications.”

President of Road Haulage Association Hector Smith said this was a milestone and had taken them a number of years negotiating.

“Our members can now fully utilise their vehicles under the manufacturers specifications and at the same time to get the level playing field that they keep talking about,” he said.

“We have been informed in our regulations some of the new fleets are not accommodated this time around. We have accommodated some of them.

“For re-fleeting, we have a guideline so when our members are purchasing, they know they get the commodity that will be able to do the job on our roads.”

Edited by: RACHNA LAL


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