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New toll fees raise dust

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BY METHEMBE SIBANDA
MOTORISTS are crying foul after the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) hiked toll fees by 73%, which will result in long-distance transporters hiking fares.

In a statement, Zinara announced that with effect from Monday (May 23), toll fees for light motor vehicles would increase to $520 from $300, minibuses $780 from $450, buses $1 040 and heavy vehicles $1 300.

The new toll fee increases will result in motorists driving light vehicles from Bulawayo to Harare forking out $2 600 at five tollgates.

Zinara said there would be a residential discount for motorists who live near a tollgate, who frequently pass through such facilities.

Reacting to the toll fee increases, motorists yesterday told NewsDay that the fees were unjustified, given the poor state of the country’s roads and the current liquidity crunch.

Some said they would be forced to use alternative routes to dodge tollgates.

“Using illegal alternative routes will save money, especially along the Bulawayo-Harare route where transporters have to pass through five tollgates. Passengers often negotiate fees and the only way to save money is to evade tollgates,” one long-distance driver said.

Motorist Lyod Moyo said: “Fuel is already very expensive, and now Zinara has hiked tollgate fees, for some passenger transporters trying to make a living, that is not fair. This will force a lot of motorists to find alternative routes.”

Passengers Association of Zimbabwe president Tafadzwa Goliath said: “Motorists are already facing high fuel costs and now they have another burden added by Zinara. Using alternative routes to avoid paying toll fees will cause more road accidents on the country’s highways because of the poor road network.

“Why don’t we have a fixed USD price that won’t change, because charging in Zimdollars is not stable? Imagine the amount of money that one has to pay for travelling from Harare to Bulawayo passing through five tollgates.”

In 2009, government introduced tollgates as part of measures to raise funds to construct and rehabilitate roads.

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