President Muhammadu Buhari has warned truck drivers to stay away from roadside parking on Federal highways and establish private parking lots to avoid congestion and ease vehicular mobility across the country.
The President gave the warning at a public enlightenment forum, organized by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMPWH), on Monday in Abuja.
The event was organized by the ministry to orientate the public and other stakeholders on recent developments in the road sector such as weigh bridges, road signage and return of the toll gates among others.
Buhari said this became imperative to ensure huge investments in the road sector; especially capital projects raised from 15 per cent to 30 per cent achieve desired impacts as well as prevent overloading of heavy duty vehicles.
He acknowledged the importance of good roads to achieving the economic recovery growth plan.
His words: “The eradication of overloading on our highways will promote competitiveness in business and reduce high maintenance cost of heavy duty vehicles. I implore all vehicle fleet operators and tanker drivers to stop parking their vehicles on the federal highways, as these often causes roads to be congested and gridlocks.
“The highways should be free at all times for safe and confortable movement of vehicles. Fleet owners should endeavor to create private parking lots for their fleets at designated locations.”
The President emphasized that the federal government is increasing investments and resuscitating the rail sector to reduce stress on the federal road networks.
Speaking on the restriction on weights and axle load of heavy duty goods vehicles, the President noted that the approval was to increase lifespan of the federal road networks.
He noted that the new regulation is also applicable within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region.
The President, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Boss Mustapha, urged the stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to enhance implementation of the existing policies and complement of other sectors.
Earlier, the Minister, FMPWH, Babatunde Fashola lauded importance of the road projects to improving socio-economic development of the people and optimizing inherent opportunities.
He cited instance of the Trans-Sahara highway project connecting Nigeria to Chad, Niger Republic, Tunisia, Mali and Algeria; the Lagos-Abidjan highway which runs through the Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana and the road project connecting the country to Cameroun, from Enugu through Abakaliki, Ogoja, Ikot and Ifun.
He said the existing treaty obligations on permitted weights and axle load of heavy duty goods is such that should be obeyed.
According to him, the treaty within the West African sub region regulates, “the amount of loads any goods vehicle can put on an axle and by extension, the amount of loads that is put on road pavement within ECOWAS region and beyond.”
“Our compliance with this regulation will open a massive door of opportunity and prosperity of cross border trade to Nigerians who are engaged in road transport business.”
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, in his remarks expressed excitements over the road projects stressing that it would reduce the rate of strike actions from labour unions. He decried poor inclusive planning by previous administrations.
Director of Highway, FMPWH, Engr. Chukwunike Uzor, explained need for truck drivers to maintain the permissible axle load for their vehicles.
“The maximum tons for six axles vehicle is 51 tons. For the normal six axles is 18 tons. So we are not only worried about the total weight of what you are carrying but you have ensure you distribute it well,” he said.
At the weigh bridges station, he explained that the excess goods will be offloaded while the offender pays fine of 1 million above the legal limit.
“It graduates like that to the maximum fine of about 10 million. So I don’t know what you are carrying that if they fine you 10 million, you will still make a profit. We are not doing it to make revenue for government but to make the infrastructure last,” he added.