PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has asked the communications ministry and National Highway Authority to respond to a petition of brick kiln owners from Nowshera district against the new axle load limit on motorways and highways.

Justice Mussarat Hilali and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim issued the order after holding preliminary hearing into the petition filed by Brick Kilns Owners Association, Nowshera, president Haji Yousaf Khan and general secretary Mohammad Ashraf Khan, who challenged the communication ministry’s May 23, 2019, letter and the subsequent notice for the implementation of the axle load regime (ALR) on highways and motorways.

The petitioners insisted that the notice was ambiguous and self-contradictory about the permissible load weight for different axle vehicles.

They requested the court to declare both the letter and notice illegal, un-implementable and illogical.

Brick kiln owners move PHC against axle load regime for highways, motorways

The petitioners also sought the court’s orders for the respondents, including the communications ministry, NHA through its chairman, provincial chief secretary, Motorway Police director general, and provincial police chief over ‘interference’ in their lawful business.

Mian Muhibullah Kakakhel, lawyer for the petitioners, said the highway police had been harassing his clients following the issuance of the impugned letter.

He said though the government had asked the relevant quarters not to follow that letter for a year, the petitioners had been facing problems on roads.

The lawyer said the ministry’s letter didn’t carry any reference to the law.

He said the relevant law on the matter was the National Highway Safety Ordinance, 2000, whose Article 89 revealed that the government should make rules in consultation with the National Highways and Pakistan Motorway Police by notification on the official gazette to carry into effect the provisions of the ordinance’s relevant chapter.

The lawyer said the NHA chairman had circulated a notice showing the maximum load, which could be carried by vehicles with various axles.

He said both the letter and notice did not make it clear whether some rules had been framed to implement the ordinance.

The lawyer claimed that the load mentioned at the bottom of the notice didn’t correspond to the load limit given in the body of the notice, so it was self-contradictory.

He said there was a prevalent procedure of check and balance on the weight of vehicles and that was done on highways, while a separate check post had been set up on highways for the purpose.

The lawyer said no obstacle like the impugned letter had been created for them since the British rule in the region and that there had been no complaint whatsoever regarding any damage or any nuisance created by loaded trucks on roads as they were mainly allowed to ply at night and sometimes after midnight until morning.

He claimed that his clients used to load 7,000 bricks on a single axle vehicle, which had been reduced to almost half, while the load limit for a tandem axle vehicle had been reduced from 10,000-11000 bricks to 4,800 bricks.

The lawyer said his clients had to pay double the amount of goods carriage and thus, suffering huge losses.

He said if the ALR was implemented, the cost of bricks would be doubled inconveniencing the people as well.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2019