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Mlolongo weighbridge chaos was planned, claims official

The riots that happened at the Mlolongo weighbridge on Monday were planned by sand transporters, according to an official.

The truck owners planned the chaos to frustrate the enforcement of load regulations, the Kenya National Highways Authority’s axle and load engineer, Mr Muita Ngatia, said.

As the authority was setting up a width restriction barrier on the highway on Sunday, the sand transporters were in a meeting planning the riots, he revealed.

Kenha erected a concrete barrier in the middle of the highway’s service lanes, locking out heavy commercial vehicles that had been using them to avoid the weighbridge.

The barriers have constricted the service lanes to 2.3 metres, forcing lorries 2.4 metres wide to stay on the highway, where a weigh-in-motion machine detects overloading.

IMPOUNDED

Flagged vehicles are diverted to the weighbridge and are impounded if they are found overloaded.

Mr Ngatia said only about 25 per cent of the 3,000 vehicles that use the highway every day are diverted into the weighbridge, which is manned by police officers.

Vehicles weighing over 3,500 kilogrammes have to go through the weighbridge or face a Sh182,000 (US $2,000) penalty for avoidance.

These vehicles had been using the service lanes to avoid enforcement, according to Mr Ngatia.

He said the transporters had scuttled initial attempts to set up the height barriers by knocking them down.

“These people carry twice the load,” he said. “You can imagine the damage they do to the roads.”

DAMAGING LANES

He claimed other road users had complained that the lorries were damaging the service lanes.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau said those involved in the protests had been identified and the hooligans who led the demonstrations would be tracked down.

The rioters ripped off a section of the weighbridge fence, destroyed a camera. They also damaged parts of the bridge and broke a window compartment.