The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has suspended the implementation of the new guidelines on transporting agricultural products following warnings from truckers and freight industry that the anti-overloading law will result to higher prices of commodities.
In a memorandum dated July 12, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson has ordered all regional directors to immediately suspend the enforcement of the maximum allowable gross vehicle weight for trucks and trailers until January 31, 2014.
Singson, however, said the implementation of the axle load limit of 13,500 kilograms will still be enforced.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) welcomed the DPWH decision, saying that the new guidelines have hampered the movement of rice and agricultural products and raised their prices.
Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, who is also the National Rice Program coordinator, said in an interview that since its implementation on June 1, at least 100 trucks were apprehended by the DPWH.
“Because of the apprehensions, a significant volume of agricultural commodities were not able to reach our markets, resulting to higher prices, specially on rice,” Delima said.
In June, the DPWH, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) started implementing a resolution amending the Anti-Overloading Act of 2000 or Republic Act 8794.
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 imposes 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 kilogram per axle was set aside by the pre-computed GVW in the Annex A.
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 per trip.
JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ