The Department of Agriculture (DA) will meet with truckers and freight industry stakeholders to thresh out problems regarding new guidelines in transporting agricultural products that took effect on June 1.
The meeting on July 15 will tackle various issues on the effects of the new resolution amending the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 8794, or the Anti Overloading Law, to the movement of rice and other agricultural products around the country.
Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante Delima requested the dialogue after meeting with industry stakeholders who warned that the price of rice and other agricultural commodities could go up by one peso per kilo if the new guidelines are implemented.
In June, the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) started implementing a resolution amending the Anti-Overloading law.
“We noted that the continued implementation of the new guidelines will have an adverse effect on the supply and price of rice in the local market,” Delima said.
The government argues that overloaded trucks and trailers have “tremendous damaging effects” on highway safety and traffic operations, and cause a heavy toll on government investments on infrastructure.
Present estimates place road rehabilitation to cost about P13.5 billion every year.
The original IRR was issued on August 16, 2000, but the implementing agencies issued a joint circular in 2001 providing the mechanics of implementation and enforcement of the provisions on overloading. It came with an attachment (Annex A) prescribing the maximum allowable gross vehicle weight depending on the configuration of the trucks and/or trailers.
Section 6 of the original law charges an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the motor vehicles users charge (MVUC) for trucks and trailers exceeding their gross vehicle weight, where the prescribed axle load is at 13,500 kilograms per axle.
The new resolution, approved on April 5, 2013, defined overloading as when trucks and trailers exceed the gross vehicle weight prescribed in Annex A, provided that the dual wheel single axle load does not exceed 13,500 kilograms.
The general rule of 13,500 kilograms per axle was set aside by the pre-computed GVW in the Annex A.
As a result, a 22-wheeler truck that can carry about 700 to 800 sacks of rice before would now be limited to only 480 to 530 sacks per trip.
This would amount to a P1 increase in price of milled rice per kilo per kilometer, Delima said.
“Strict implementation of the law will result in increasing the cost of freight, handling and storage, and worsen traffic conditions. There may not even be enough trailers and containers to move all the cargo because of the additional trips required to move them all,” he added.
The matter was also brought to the attention of the DPWH, and the truckers were informed that the implementation of the new guidelines might be suspended temporarily.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, however, wants more permanent and tangible solutions to the problem.
JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ