The Department of Agriculture (DA) is backing the implementation of the anti-overloading law despite warnings from truckers and freight industry stakeholders over the possible impact in the supply and prices of rice.
“It is about time that we implement the new guidelines so that we will have a more permanent and tangible solution to the problem,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said in an interview.
Alcala stressed that overloaded trucks and trailers have caused heavy toll on highway safety and traffic operations.
Present estimates place road rehabilitation to cost about P13.5 billion every year.
“Instead of spending billions of pesos to repair our roads, it would be more prudent for us to invest the money on improving our farms and other social services,” the DA chief added.
DA officials are set to meet with truckers, traders and freight groups today to tackle various issues on the effects of the new resolution to the movement of rice and other agricultural products around the country.
Earlier, industry stakeholders said that the price of rice and other agricultural commodities could go up by P1 a kilo, as a result of the new guidelines.
In June, the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Transportation and Communications and the Interior and Local Government started implementing a resolution amending the Anti-Overloading Act of 2000, or Republic Act 8794.
The original implementing rules and regulations 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 or annex prescribing the maximum allowable gross vehicle weight depending on the configuration of trucks and/or trailers.
Section 6 of the original law provides that the government shall impose an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the motor vehicles users charge, or MVUC, for trucks and trailers exceeding their gross vehicle weight (GVW), 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 the annex, 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 precomputed GVW in the annex.
As a result, in terms of rice cargo, an ordinary 22-wheeler truck that can carry about 700 to 800 sacks of rice before would now be limited to load only 480 to 530 sacks each trip.
This would amount to a P1 increase in the price of milled rice per kilo per kilometer.
But Alcala said that solutions are available, adding that it would only require additional investment on the part of truckers and freight carriers.
“In fact, they can easily invest on new trailers and additional axle for them to carry bigger loads. What’s important is that they abide with the prescribed axle load,” he said.