It is now two weeks since drivers transporting Pozzolana, a major raw material in the manufacture of cement, went on strike and stopped supplying it to Hima Cement factory in Kasese District.
The drivers are demanding an increase in the price per tonnage of Pozzolana from Shs27,000 to Shs50,000 by their contractors. Some of the suppliers contracted by Hima including Egency and Kibito Transporters have been compelled to bow to the drivers’ demands because they do not own vehicles. The drivers’ decision came after police in Fort Portal stopped them from overloading their trucks as per the axle load law.
Previously, they have been carrying 25 tonnes but the traffic police tasked them to carry 15 tonnes as axle load. “The police have threatened to arrest us for over loading and when we go by their directive, we will be making losses. Therefore to avoid these losses, we want an increase in the price per tonne,” said Mr Sadick Bamukwaya, the chairperson United Pozzolana Drivers and Transporters.
The recommended axle load weight is 56 tonnes, but some truck owners have been allegedly bribing their way out and carry over 80 tonnes until recently when the police toughened. The transporters have also blocked other trucks from entering the quarries at Nyabukara in Fort Portal and at Harugongo in Hakibale.
The Kabarole District Police Commander, Mr Joseph Kihamba, said police will not let the drivers overload. However, Hima’s logistics officer, Mr Obed Mpwereirwe, said the company could only resolve the prices with the suppliers since they deal with them only. An employee at the factory who preferred anonymity, said the price of cement has increased from Shs29,000 to Shs 30,000, a bag.