Home » Industry » Zinara Pitches for Border Posts

The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) intends to improve infrastructure at border posts to ensure efficiency in the clearing of cargo and passenger vehicles, officials have said.

There has been general concern over delays in the clearance of passenger and cargo vehicles, particularly at Beitbridge and Chirundu border posts given that they are along the gateway into southern Africa, which effectively makes the Beitbridge-Chirundu Highway a commercial corridor.

Zinara officials told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development yesterday that they would want to facelift border posts to bring efficiency.

Zanu-PF MP for Chegutu West Cde Dexter Nduna chairs the committee.

Zinara board chairman Mr Albert Mugabe said delays at border posts were a cause for concern as some cargo took up to a week before being cleared.

“The Act clearly indicates that borders are tolling points, so part of our mandate as Zinara is to construct and expand all tolling points and any ancillaries,” he said.

Zinara collects road access fees at the borders as well as toll fees across the country.

Mr Mugabe told The Herald after his appearance before the parliamentary committee that it was the responsibility of the roads authority to construct infrastructure at the ports of entry.

“The logic behind this is to have efficient logistics at border posts to bring smoothness and efficiency,” said Mr Mugabe.

“For instance, at the moment, if a truck gets to the border it can stay there for at least three days.

“So, as Zinara we want to address that problem by ensuring that there is efficiency where we will have private passenger vehicles being cleared on one route, while haulage trucks and buses are also cleared from different routes.”

During their appearance before the parliamentary committee, the Zinara officials castigated the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for allegedly sabotaging national projects by blindly ordering garnishee orders without due diligence.

The tax collector is also accused of chewing about 50 percent of the $206 million loan sourced from the Development Bank of Southern Africa by Zinara for the expansion and rehabilitation of the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare highway.

The project is a partnership between Government and Group Five known as the Infralink project.

Zinara acting chief executive officer Engineer Moses Juma said Zimra continued to demand more money from the loan.

“From our records, Zimra has charged us $31,9 million on VAT on this project and also $7 million on non-resident tax which comes to $38,8 million, which constitutes about 18,8 percent of the project,” he said.

“Just about two weeks ago, my office received another notice from Zimra highlighting that the project has another tax exposure of $46, 4 million, so if I add the $38,8 million we have already paid and current exposure it means Zimra will be demanding from Infralink 41,2 percent of the loan amount to go towards tax.

“This has got a negative effect of starving other obligations Zinara has. And also for the contractor to finish the project, they had to borrow part of the money from other sources because Zimra had garnished our accounts and collected this amount.”

Mr Mugabe said the decision by Zimra to demand taxes on national projects from loans was out of order.

“The project nearly capitulated earlier on after Zimra garnished some $30million,” he said.

“We then had to rely on the contractor to, through his efforts, borrow some funding to replace that which had been garnished in order for the project to go ahead.

“Yes, I concede there may have been technicalities in the deal structuring or formalities that were not followed for the project to arrive at a position where Zimra would not find fault with us.

“But this is a national project. Having recognised that what we were doing was repaying the loan, whatever technicalities may have been forsaken or overridden in the design and structure of the deal, we should have been able to recognise that this money is being used to repay a loan. It should never be taxed.

“As the CEO has indicated, we presently have yet another garnishee order hovering over us. We cannot be effective in road maintenance, rehabilitation and construction if we are allowing these kinds of things to impact negatively on our operations,” said Mr Mugabe.

There were indications that Zimra also garnished local authorities’ accounts when the roads authority deposited money into their accounts for road maintenance.

The tax collector came under fire from business last year for indiscriminately garnishing bank accounts of companies, including small to medium enterprises.

Legislators raised concern with some portions of the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare highway which they said had not been properly done.

They said there was need for Zinara to ensure the contractor corrected all the anomalies on the highway to guarantee a better life span.

Source : The Herald