Home » General » Govt Targets U.S.$200 Million From Tollgates

The planned increase in the number of tollgates is expected to more than double revenue from tolling fees from US$100 million to over US$200 million as government desperately tries to boost its virtually empty coffers, the Financial Gazette can report.

Faced with an unsustainably high wage bill gobbling up more than 80 percent of its revenue, government will soon increase the number of tollgates from 22 to 52, a 137 percent rise in the number of the money-spinning structures.

Mathematically, this will translate into a 100 percent increase in revenue generated from the tollgates to US$200 million.

Last year, the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) indicated that it was expecting US$102 million from tollgates following a 100 percent increase in tolling fees.

ZINARA falls under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

Transport Minister Obert Mpofu has been quoted previously saying the decision to increase tollgates was meant to raise cash needed to rehabilitate the country’s road network.

The decision has however, not gone down well with motorists.

Questions have also been raised as to whether the money raised from the toll fees was being used for its intended purposes considering that Zimbabwe’s roads continue to be deteriorate.

With 80,1 percent of last year’s US$3,07 billion revenue collections during the first 10 months having been swallowed by the civil service wage bill, it then should come as no surprise that the country’s road network remains in bad state.

ZINARA’s mandate specifically instructs that revenue from tollgates, vehicle licence fees, loans and grants, abnormal load fees, road transit fees and fuel levy should be directed to road authorities such as the Department of Roads, the District Development Fund, urban councils and rural district councils, sectors that have the responsibility to construct, maintain and rehabilitate roads that are under their jurisdiction in accordance with road programmes approved by the administration.

Six years ago, when government decided to introduce tollgates along the country’s major highways to raise funding for road infrastructure rehabilitation and development, many thought it was a noble proposition.

Chances of raising millions of dollars to deal with the poor road network were so real that the citizenry generally got excited that, despite the fact that the money to be raised would not be enough to thoroughly do the job at least it would help the country save its road infrastructure from further deterioration.

However, as it has now turned out, it seems everyone was led up a beautiful garden path of an Eden that never was.

ZINARA simply released money to patch up gaping holes on sections of 18 460km of State highways, leaving out 61 000km of rural roads and 9 000km of urban roads to their own fate.

The perennial excuse has been that the money being raised from tollgates is not enough to do a thorough job because it roughly costs more than US$200 000 to rehabilitate a single kilometre of road, while constructing a kilometre stretch of tarred road costs between US$800 000 and US$1,2 million.

And after revenue from tollgate fees surged from US$57 million in 2012, an amount which was collected over two and half years, to US$102 million last year alone, government seems to have now found a well fed cow to milk as the number of tolling points are set to be increased by another 30.

Source : Financial Gazette