THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to meet with truckers and freight industry stakeholders over new guidelines on transporting agricultural product, which took effect on June 1 this year.
The meeting, which will held on July 15, will tackle various issues on the effects of the new resolution amending the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 8794, or the Anti-Overloading Law, to the movement of rice and other agricultural products around the country.
Dante Delima, assistant secretary and National Rice Program coordinator, requested the dialogue after meeting with industry stakeholders who claimed 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.
“We noted that the continued implementation of the new guidelines by the 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 provides that the government shall impose an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the motor vehicles users charge 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 precomputed 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. 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.