Mpofu insists on urban tollgates

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HARARE – Government is adamant with plans to introduce urban tollgates despite fierce resistance from motorists.

Obert Mpofu, the Transport minister, reiterated his desire for urban tolls yesterday when the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) handed over 40 graders to rural district councils.

“Encouraged by the growing interest from urban councils and towns on the urban tolling initiative and the warm cooperation we are receiving from our sister ministry of Local Government, my ministry is strongly pursuing the introduction of urban tolling as one major source of funding road transport infrastructural development in urban areas,” Mpofu said.

Mpofu announced in September that government was considering the introduction of tollgates in urban centres to raise money to finance infrastructural development, decongest the city centres and reduce carbon emissions.

The proposal was met with fierce resistance from labour organisations and urban dwellers in general but Mpofu is determined.

“To that end my ministry is taking this consultative process a step further with great vigour and purpose with the view of expediting the discussion and finalisation of the issue,” he said.

London, Stockholm and Oslo have become model cities of the system with South Africa being the latest regional addition following President Jacob Zuma’s recent approval.

Currently Zinara’s revenue comes from highway toll fees, vehicle licensing, loans and grants, abnormal load fees, road transit fees and fuel levy.

Mpofu argued the country needed a cocktail of revenue sources to fund the rehabilitation of the run-down road surface network.

“Zimbabwe has a total road network of just over 88 000km, for which a minimum of $2 billion is required to rehabilitate the road infrastructure to good condition and clear the 10-year maintenance backlog,” he said.

Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government minister, concurred with Mpofu, saying  local authorities stand to benefit from fresh potential local revenue streams.

Manicaland, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Department of National Roads received four graders each.

Midlands and Mashonaland Central got five each while Mashonaland East is entitled to six.

Since January Zinara handed over another 40 graders.

Abdullah Kassim, Zinara chairperson, said the organisation was driven by its understanding of the centrality of a viable road network to economic development.

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