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toll road system causes chaos
Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa
August 26, 2009
The new road
toll system introduced earlier this month, in an effort to get money
into the Transport Ministry's empty coffers, is causing chaos
and concerns are also being raised about potential corruption at
the toll sites.
From the 8th
August the new tolls
were introduced, with charges ranging from US$1 to US$5 per vehicle,
payable at several points across the country. Customs and excise
agents, working from roadside tents, control the collection of money
from drivers who are stopped at roadblocks set up by the police.
The Minister of Transport, Nicholas Goche, said earlier this year
that 90% of the toll fees would be given to the Ministry, which
would in turn forward the money to the National Road Authority.
The funds would then be forwarded to the Department of Roads, local
authorities and the District Development Fund.
Goche said the remaining
10% would be given to the Ministry of Finance to cover administrative
costs involved in the running of the tollgates. He said government
vehicles would not be exempt from paying toll fees and that residents
in areas surrounding the tollgates would be given special discs.
But the roadblocks and
toll system are reportedly causing confusion amongst Zimbabweans.
The initial toll week was also reportedly a shambles, with a local
resident telling civic action support group Sokwanele that the toll
collector ran out of receipts, money was not being logged and no
change was available. There is therefore no way of knowing how much
of the money collected at the tolls is making it to the Transport
At the same time, each
transaction reportedly took about twenty minutes to complete. Sokwanele
reported this week that a local farmer, who sends a lorry filled
with vegetables into Bulawayo three times a day, is set to spend
more than US$600 a month on toll fees. His truck has to pass through
the toll point between Bulawayo and Beitbridge, which has been set
up before the town of Esigodini, forty km from Bulawayo. The farmer,
already struggling to keep a steady income flowing in the agriculturally
and economically devastated country, also said that his lorry driver
will lose two hours a day or 44 hours a month by going through the
lengthy toll procedure three times a day.
The situation is indicative
of the backwards economic revival process underway in the country.
While no one will argue that toll roads are the best way to pump
money into the transport system, only a well managed, effective
toll system would prevent the initiative from dissolving into more
chaos. The government has had an estimated two years to prepare
for the toll network, but still no solar panels for computers, no
lighting at all during the night, no phones, no water is available
and the toilet facilities are reportedly primitive for those manning
the toll 'tents.'
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