TRANSPORT minister Obert Mpofu yesterday said the recent 100% increase in tollgate fees is aimed at improving the country’s road network and infrastructure.
Speaking to Southern Eye on the sidelines of a tour of the Victoria Falls International Airport with a Chinese delegation in the resort town, Mpofu said the new charges were not even enough to fund the rehabilitation of all roads.
“Zinara (Zimbabwe National Roads Administration) has been collecting an average of $40 million dollars a year and that $40 million cannot develop more than 20km of a tarred road,” he said.
“We are being attacked by members of the public that our roads are not being improved, but how do we improve the entire national road network on a paltry $40 million?”
Harare High Court judge Justice Joseph Mafusire this week dismissed an application filed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) seeking to halt the increase in tollgate fees by up to 100%.
ZLHR claimed the hike was unconstitutional and unjustified, while the government argued that the cash was needed for road maintenance.
Mpofu said the government would continue engaging other stakeholders to ensure roads are rehabilitated.
“We will be engaging other stakeholders as the government in improving our roads and we will make sure that every cent is used for its purpose,” he said. “A declaration has been made by the judiciary of this country which was favourable to us and we want to develop our roads; this is not for any personal benefit, but it is for the nation.
“We have been experiencing a lot of accidents on our roads because they have not been rehabilitated and surfaced so we want to assure the public that every penny of monies received from tolling will go towards the development of our road infrastructure.
“I see no reason why people should really make it difficult for this to happen. It is happening throughout the world. Right now I’m hosting a Chinese delegation which was very clear in its explanation about road tolls in their country that their entire sophisticated infrastructure is funded by those who use the roads and there has not been any questions about it,” Mpofu added.
Meanwhile, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Cain Mathema urged China to invest in the province saying it was rich in natural resources.
“Zimbabwe and China have very good relations and we encourage them to invest in our country. We have timber, coal and gold in this region and we want more Chinese companies to come and invest in these fields,” he said.
The leader of the Chinese delegation Guo Jinlang said he was pleased with the developments he had seen at the airport and encouraged Zimbabweans and Chinese professionals to continue sharing their skills.