HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsNo public transport system to justify urban tollgates

No public transport system to justify urban tollgates


Much has been said about the proposal by Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Obert Mpofu to introduce urban tollgates to decongest cities, but little has been done to interrogate the feasibility of such plans in the context of Zimbabwe.

Guest Column Everson Mushava

Interestingly, some local authorities, notably Harare and Gweru, have rushed to embrace the concept, saying this would allow them to raise more funds to improve the conditions of roads.

The proposal has been met with mixed feelings. Some people feel it’s the best way to go, but the majority feel it’s an unscrupulous way of stealing their hard-earned cash.

The argument against the proposed urban tollgates is bolstered by the fact that not much has been done on our roads using money raised from tollgates set up on our highways about five years ago.

Our major highways are still in a deplorable state, with potholes that have continued to pose a threat to lives. Many accidents that have claimed lives on our major roads have been caused by the poor condition of our roads, particularly on the Beitbridge-Harare highway.

But despite many complaints, Mpofu has remained steadfast in his proposal to introduce the urban tollgate.

“We will look at it with the view to address this anomaly in order to decongest our towns and generate revenue,” Mpofu said, insisting “there is no reason why tollgates should be built away from towns where most traffic is”, and describing urban tolling as “logical”.

The urban tollgates, he said, would boost the budgets of municipalities and ultimately result in better road infrastructure.

“Any new progressive initiative attracts resistance, but I am sure every motorist in the country would want to drive on safe, wide and well-maintained roads. This is the ultimate that our motorists will get,” the minister said.

The minister said roads in urban centres, which are managed by the local authorities, were in a bad state compared to the highways which are maintained by the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara).

Mpofu’s controversial plans, which come in the wake of an increase in vehicle tax by Zinara, cannot just go unchallenged.

While the idea is noble, it is important for the minister to realise that coming up with measures to deter people from using their private vehicles in the absence of a vibrant public transport system will create serious problems to the country’s economy.

The move will create grave transport blues that could weigh heavily on companies that will lose several production hours as a result of people reporting late for work. The use of private vehicles by motorists is not a luxury, but a necessity because the country’s public transport system is in shambles.

Mpofu said the system had worked well in developed countries, but forgot to explore factors that have helped in ensuring that such a programme succeeds. The system has been successfully implemented in some cities around the world, especially in Europe, because there is an efficient public transport system and the use of personal vehicles is just but a luxury.

In world cities such as London, Bejing, Stockholm and Oslo, yes, urban tolling has led to the reduction of private vehicle use because there are alternative means of transport.

There are efficient subway systems that maintain strict timetables, at roughly five-minute intervals. There are also cycle tracks for the majority of people who use bicycles to go to work.

To add to these, there are also buses with fixed timetables that ply the routes providing wide commuting options for the public.

But for Zimbabwe, a country without a single functional train, or conventional buses plying urban routes, to jump all these stages and force motorists to abandon using their own personal vehicles would create serious consequences.

But then minister Mpofu is known for devising ways to milk the cash-strapped population. When he was at the Ministry of Mines, he hiked mining licence fees to margins that elbowed emerging businesses out. Now, less than 100 days after taking charge of the Transport ministry, he has raised vehicle licence fees and plans to further fleece motorists through this vehicle toll system.

Whatever implementation mechanism the minister is coming up with in the urban tolling project, he should have first focused on infrastructural development. There is need to revamp the public transport system so that it is safe and reliable.

Needless to say, the countries that have implemented the urban tolling system have an organised settlement pattern, like blocks of flats that allow people to depend on one mode of transport, like a one railway line.

Moreover, besides earning peanuts, Zimbabweans are already burdened by high taxes. Cde Minister, motorists are already suffering from high vehicle maintenance caused by the poor state of roads.

Maybe you do not feel it because you do not pay tollgates and your official vehicles are repaired by the taxpayers. Taxpayers are already paying enough for infrastructural development; do not force them to pay more for your mismanagement.


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  1. Any idea from Obert Mpofu is just to enrich himself nothing else. Leave the cities to the city council to decide. You have raised a lot of income but the general public has never benefited but you have expanded your businesses and properties. We are watching you Honourable Minister.

    • Ndozvinoita Zanu pf government izvozvo. Ichasvina vanhu kusvika zvanaka. panenge pakupera five years unonzwa zvonzi musabhadhara mvura, magetsi chakadeno chakadeno. Ivo vanhu votokanganwa chazuro neusiku humwe. Fungai mazimbabweans. Kwanzi naMpofu 500 000 vehicles are not road worthy. Infact no single road is worth to be used by any vehicle accept harare- murombedzi highway. Mpofu is talking nonsense only. To hell

  2. it is the norm in Zimbabwe tht as soon as ministers are appointed we hear a lot of rubbish as each n evry minister wnts 2 b heard 2 hv said something, Mpofu in developed countries salaries match bills n taxes n u cn evn save nt in Zim we cnt evn afford 3 meals a day, account 4 the toll fees 4 e last 5 yrs then mayb we cn start payn urban tolls, the only road tht ws serviced ws Zvimba road nxa

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