Toll gates- is it a remedy to road maintenance in the country?

There was a time when the number of cars in Lusaka city was equal to the population of Malawi country wide. The present condition however, is pathetic for Zambian motorists as the country seems to have more cars vis-à-vis roads, causing never ending traffic jams and congestion. To help matters, the Zambian government launched the Pave Zambia 2000 Campaign, a project aimed at constructing more roads in the country.

Road Development Agency, RDA, the organization tasked with the responsibility to see this project through says it will sensitize the general public about the toll gate system through road shows and brochures. There was a time when the number of cars in Lusaka city was equal to the population of Malawi country wide. The present condition however, is pathetic for Zambian motorists as the country seems to have more cars vis-à-vis roads, causing never ending traffic jams and congestion.

To help matters, the Zambian government launched the Pave Zambia 2000 Campaign, a project aimed at constructing more roads in the country.

In addition to this, it has also introduced the gate tolling system which was enforced late December last year and stretches through to the year 2015.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a toll road is a public or private roadway for which a fee is gauged for passage. It is a form of road pricing classically implemented to help recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance, which (on public roads) amounts to a form of taxation.

Hitherto, questions still remain unanswered as to how RDA as well as the government will sensitize not only motorists but also pedestrians about the system.

Questions arising from the general public include whether or not government will revoke any taxes on fuel levy and road tax and will the idea of plazas work and who will be handling the toll fees?

Road Development Agency, RDA, the organization tasked with the responsibility to see this project through says it will sensitize the general public about the toll gate system through road shows and brochures.

RDA Senior Public Relations Manager, Loyce Saili said that Zambia’s seven main languages will also be used on radio and television which are already being used in the sensitization process.

Speaking in an interview with the Lusaka Star, Mrs. Saili stated that plazas will be built on 26 identified points on major roads country wide.

She further stated that it is the responsibility of RDA to collect the toll fees because it was appointed by government with this responsibility.

On the contrary, Mrs. Saili said fuel levy and road tax are policies run by the government under the Ministry of Finance and she was not in a position to comment on that.

However, motorists in Lusaka city have different perceptions about the whole concept as they convey different opinions on the matter.

A Lusaka motorist, Wesley Malubuki, who is also a Technical advisor working for GIZ said the initiative is good but feels the government has delayed it as compared to other countries such as South Africa where its remunerations are being celebrated.

He further said it would work so long the government plans well and the funds raised be put to the intended project.

In a separate interview, motorists on Cairo road supported the move by government to raise funds for the maintenance, rehabilitation and construction of other roads but the government should get rid of some taxes like fuel or road tax because adding the tolling system will be expensive for them.

A Mrs. Siatwambo said that it is a good policy by government and strongly feels that terms and conditions about the funds raised are accounted for and by all means issues such as corruption and poverty should be addressed.

She also said that she was not sure about the toll tax percentage as it depends on the type of vehicle one is driving.

Other motorists that were interviewed do not know anything about the tollgate system.

Generally, some of the motorists that were approached said in as much as it may impose more costs on them, toll gates are a reasonable benefit to the country’s roads development as the government currently may have little or no money to build, maintain and construct better roads.

This will further mean that citizens will contribute through the toll taxes to help with the roads and this will reduce on government borrowing funds from other countries.

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