Zimbabwe: Tollgate Levies Used As a Political Tool
10 April 2012
allAfrica.com - 5 April 2012
THE Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) announced that three tollgates would be built along the Plumtree-Mutare highway over the next three years. Two permanent gates would be constructed between Bulawayo and Harare while a third is set for Ruwa.
Toll roads are found in many countries. The way they are funded and operated may differ from country to country. Some of these toll roads are privately owned and operated. Others are owned by the government. Some of the government-owned toll roads are privately operated.
Some toll roads are managed under such systems as the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model Private companies build the roads and are given a limited franchise. Ownership is transferred to the government when the franchise expires. Throughout the world, this type of arrangement is common. The BOT system is a fairly new concept which however is gaining ground.
Given that the system requires vehicles to stop or slow down, manual toll collection wastes time and raises motor vehicle operating costs, government should be using the money efficiently to reward citizens by investing in the road network, not ripping them off.
However, in Zimbabwe, tollgate levies are among the most abused public funds. Revenue theft is rampant because it is comparatively easy to steal as has been shown by stories in the media.
According to Zinara spokesman Augustine Moyo, when the first of these "state-of-the-art" structures is completed in September this year, toll fees would be increased.
Moyo claimed higher charges were necessary to generate more revenue for reconstruction of the US$206 million highway, but if history is anything to go by, whatever Zinara is set to earn is likely to be diverted to finance non-road related expenses.