It has been a while since tollgate fees were adjusted upwards. The government has decided to hike toll fees again premising it on the current state of the economy – inflation in particular. The government pointed out that hiking the toll fees was meant to enable Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) to have the capacity to discharge its duties well. Such duties entail the development and rehabilitation of road infrastructure. I will talk a little bit about that later on.
The Old Toll Fees Structure
Formerly light vehicles were required to pay ZWL$45 at toll gates – this had been hiked from ZWL$10. Minibuses were supposed to pay ZWL$70 (up from ZWL$15) whilst buses had to pay ZWL$90 (up from ZWL$20). Heavy vehicles were paying ZWL$115 (formerly ZWL$25) and haulage trucks had to pay ZWL$225 (which was previously ZWL$50).
The New Toll Fees Structure
Light motor vehicles are now required to pay ZWL$120. Minibuses must now pay ZWL$180 whereas buses ought to pay ZWL$240. Heavy vehicles are now expected to pay ZWL$300 and haulage trucks will now be paying ZWL$590. There is also that residential discount for people residing close to toll gates. Essentially these are individuals who typically pass through those toll gates regularly. That discount has been reviewed upwards from ZWL$250 to ZWL$600.
Remarks By ZINARA Public Relations And Marketing Manager
Mr Tendai Mugabe, the PRM Manager for ZINARA had the following to say. “This adjustment is meant to ensure that we make meaningful disbursements to our road authorities. We believe that this will go a long way in improving our road infrastructure. We are approaching the rainy season a period where most of our roads get damaged in terms of erosion and potholes. This adjustment means that we will be ready to repair our roads at the shortest possible time. If you go to any district right now, there is a capital road project underway. Our desire and objective are to see a road network that helps Zimbabwe to meet the targets of Vision 2030. We want to see a road network that transforms Zimbabwe into a regional transport hub and this adjustment will go a long way in the realisation of this vision. We have plugged several leakages and recently we introduced a risk and loss control department in the organisation, which in our view is critical to our operations. We are enhancing our internal control systems and monitoring at tollgates as a way of fighting corruption.”
Some Talking Points
Hike Is Justifiable – Inflation-Wise
It is a given that the previous toll fees were paltry – especially when you look at inflation. The new toll fees effectively mean that no toll fee is less than US$1. Basically, that makes the new toll fees more meaningful because they have considerable value.
Value For Money – Is There?
The whole point of toll fees is to raise money for the rehabilitation and development of roads. It is true of course that ZINARA has done considerable amounts of work developing and rehabilitating roads. However, it seems as if most, if not all, of the roads on which toll gates are on are generally in poor states. This is ironic given the fact that toll fees ought to cater to the roads they are on. For years it has been apparent that not all money realized from toll fees really goes to servicing roads. This is something that is not supposed to be so but sadly is and it is no wonder why most roads are in poor conditions.
Let me round off by citing an example so that I get your comments. For instance, there are 6 toll gates between Harare and Bulawayo. This means a to and fro light motor vehicle trip on that route would need a total of ZWL$1440 in toll gate fees. Is this reasonable? I am asking from two angles i.e. from the driver’s side and the government’s side. In essence, is this affordable for the driver and does the money have substantial value to make a difference in ZINARA’s operations? Kindly let us know in the comments below.