BULAWAYO Progressive Residents’ Association (Bpra) has vowed to mobilise residents in resisting the erection of tollgates within the city, a development that city fathers seem to have endorsed.
Last week, Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Obert Mpofu revealed that the city council had given the thumbs up on the installation of tollgates, saying the city had expressed eagerness to have urban tolling.
Bpra programmes and advocacy manager Emmanuel Ndlovu yesterday said they would strongly oppose the move.
“Residents were shocked and disappointed to learn that Bulawayo City Council wants the installation of tollgates to go ahead,” he said.
“That decision, if it is a binding one, was done without any consultation with residents and we note with concern that council is now resorting to arbitrary decisions.
“Council is now embarrassed to consult residents on any major developments, the recent issue being prepaid water metres.”
Ndlovu said the council was only concerned with benefits from tolling at the expense of financial burden on residents.
“As Bpra, we consulted residents on the matter last year and they are totally against tolling,” he said.
“We are going to mobilise residents to resist the imposition of tollgates.”
Mpofu said the ministry would not impose tollgates on local authorities, but would seek consensus after consultations.
However, he indicated that most local authorities were in support of the project.
Urban tolling was first mooted in 2013 as a move to decongest city centres, reduce carbon emissions and raise money to finance infrastructural development.
Cabinet last year subsequently approved the setting up of tollgates in urban areas.
That attracted the ire of motorists, who feel the move will further worsen their financial situation.
The country’s 26 tollgates charge a fee of between $2 and $10 for different types of vehicles and collect in excess of about $130 million annually from road access fees, vehicle licensing, transit fees and fuel levy, among other revenue streams.
Reacting to the council’s stance on urban tolling, some Southern Eye readers said it was a waste of money erecting more tollgates, as the project was likely to fuel corruption.
“It is very unfortunate that minister Mpofu does not consider the opinion of others no matter what,” a reader said.
“He has been advocating the implementation of tollgates for a long time and there is no mayor who can say otherwise, when cornered by him.”