These past two or so weeks I have been covering lots of news items. Most of those pieces have been on price increases in various industries. That has been a recurrent thing in Zimbabwe of late. That in itself is an indicator of deep-seated economic challenges. When you boil down most of the things it comes to one thing – the local currency is continuously depreciating. Yet the government is insisting that we should continue to use the Zimbabwe dollar. For the most part, US dollar prices are remaining the same but Zimbabwe dollar ones are not. That just clearly shows that the local currency is not cut out to be as competitive as insisted. Anyways, toll fees have just been reviewed i.e. the Zimbabwe dollar prices. The US dollar prices will remain the same; case in point!
Toll Fees Reviewed Effective 23 May 2022
Last week ZINARA announced that toll fees will be reviewed effectively on the 23rd of May 2022. Here was the official communique:
In terms of Section 4 of Statutory Instrument 32 of 2021, toll fees which are pegged in foreign currency are payable in ZWL at the prevailing foreign currency auction rate.
Under that, we would like to advise our valued customers that with effect from Monday 23 May 2022, the following toll fees will apply:
Kindly be advised that toll fees in foreign currency remain unchanged.
ZINARA Planning To Introduce E-Tolling
Recently ZINARA indicated that they are planning to introduce e-tolling; plans are now at an advanced stage. They said that the core objective is to reduce operating costs. They highlighted that as much as 30 per cent of their revenues go to toll fee collection processes. Thus by introducing e-tolling, those costs will be significantly reduced. In principle or theory, it does make sense but there are some issues to consider.
The e-tolling system has been used in South Africa for several years. However, there have always been public complaints since the system was introduced 9 years ago. To begin with, South Africans were never in support of the e-tolling system. If introduced here I would not expect any different reaction.
Plus I am always concerned about any tech-based system being rolled in Zimbabwe. The country still lags and serious complications can be encountered if such a system is rolled out. Overall, South Africa is a perfect case study for us to learn from. If e-tolling was not a resounding success in South Africa, I doubt it will different here in Zimbabwe.
Concerns About Misplaced Priorities And Corruption
Some Zimbabweans have expressed discontent at this citing poor prioritization. They feel that the state of the roads should be the first focus rather than toll fee collection. This is also coupled with the fact that there have been several cases of corruption in ZINARA. Sometime earlier this year I mentioned a story about corrupt activities at ZINARA.
Spanning from last year to 2022, at least 21 ZINARA employees were arrested for fraudulent activities at just one toll gate – the Shurugwi one. The total money they stole was over ZWL$21 million – imagine that! How many more such cases are there but are going unpunished? You then realize that it is quite possible that well over 50 percent of revenue from toll fee collection is being misdirected. ZINARA is labelled one of the most corrupt in Zimbabwe, along with VID, according to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
That is the latest regarding toll fees in Zimbabwe. For those who normally get their incomes in US dollars, it is business as usual. For those who usually get incomes in ZWL, you will now spend more. This latest ZWL toll fees hike is almost 100 percent so some people will feel the pinch.