Overview of Vehicle Load Control Management in Malawi
Overloading of trucks is a major problem in many countries throughout the world and the continent of Africa and the Republic of Malawi in particular, are no exception. Uncontrolled and widespread overloading of trucks causes premature deterioration of the road network, negatively impacts on road safety and creates a distorted market for transport operators, consignors and consignees. Attempts to control overloading of trucks in Africa have, generally speaking, had limited success. In many countries effective overload control strategies have been developed over the years, but lack of implementation of these strategies is usually the problem. Constraints to implementation are often sustainable funding (particularly for operations and maintenance of weighing equipment) and human capacity.
The Malawi Road Traffic Directorate (RTD) is currently operating 5 fixed weighbridges at Balaka, Songwe, Mchinji, Mulanje and Mwanza, a 6th one will be fully operation soon at Lirangwe. The RTD also operates mobile weighbridges. With respect to the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM), the maximum permissible weight is 55,000 kg. The vehicle axle configuration has to be taken into account when determining the GVM which may vary from vehicle to vehicle, thus for tractor/horse unit plus trailer of 6-axle combination will have a maximum GVM of 50
Legal loads on vehicles in Malawi are specified in the Road Traffic Act (RTA, 1997) and Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use) Regulations (CEU Regulations, 2000). The review of the legal framework underpinning overload control in Malawi has shown that in general the regulations dealing with the control of loads on vehicles and with overloaded vehicles are comprehensive and adequately address this matter.
A positive aspect of the legal framework in Malawi is the decriminalisation of overload offences. These offences are addressed by way of an administrative system incorporating fees as provided for in the CEU Regulations.