TOLL PLAZAS NOT MON­STERS

Daily Nation Newspaper - - HOME NEWS -

THE con­struc­tion of toll plazas on high­ways across the coun­try should be seen in the con­text of sus­tain­able road in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance and de­vel­op­ment. In the past, Zam­bia strug­gled to main­tain the road in­fra­struc­ture be­cause there had not been a sus­tain­able and con­sis­tent fi­nanc­ing ar­range­ment. Some years back, a fuel levy was in­tro­duced as a fi­nanc­ing mech­a­nism for road main­te­nance and de­vel­op­ment but such an ar­range­ment was not suf­fi­cient to meet the ris­ing de­mand for road projects. Thus the toll plazas be­ing rolled out on main roads should not be viewed as a mon­ster aimed at choking the mo­torists, but an in­dis­pens­able na­tional project de­signed to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture. There are nu­mer­ous for­eign au­to­mo­biles that ply the length and bread of the Zam­bian roads with heavy loads. Zam­bia oc­cu­pies a strate­gic geo­graph­i­cal po­si­tion in the South­ern Africa De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) and the Com­mon Mar­ket for Eastern and South­ern Africa (COMESA) where re­gional in­te­gra­tion and trade is ris­ing. Trucks in the re­gion use Zam­bia as a tran­sit point from var­i­ous coun­tries in COMESA and SADC re­gions. The vol­ume of traf­fic at Ka­sum­balesa bor­der post link­ing Zam­bia and the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC) is so huge that the coun­try can­not af­ford to lose rev­enue from levies. This, there­fore, means that the trucks will have to pay levies at Gar­ne­ton toll plaza be­tween Chin­gola and Kitwe. At Michael Chilu­fya Sata toll plaza be­tween Ndola and Kitwe which was com­mis­sioned by Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu yes­ter­day, trucks and other ve­hi­cles will have to be levied for the coun­try to rake in more rev­enue. Ka­fu­lafuta toll plaza be­tween Ndola and Kapiri Mposhi is an­other pay point so is the Manyumbi toll plaza be­tween Kapiri and Kabwe. On the same stretch, there is Katuba toll plaza be­tween Kabwe and Lusaka; there are many more plazas dot­ted across the coun­try. The heavy cargo trucks travers­ing Zam­bia’s roads are laden with cop­per and other min­er­als from the min­eral-rich Katanga prov­ince in the DRC, hence it is jus­ti­fied that they pay to com­pen­sate for the wear and tear of in­fra­struc­ture. Yes, there are some res­i­dents who drive on high­ways on a daily ba­sis as they go for work while oth­ers con­duct busi­ness us­ing the same stretches on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. How­ever, there are spe­cial rates for those liv­ing within 10 km ra­dius and also for those who ply such ar­eas on a daily ba­sis. Some peo­ple may ar­gue that there are too many pay­ments for mo­torists, which in­clude road tax, car­bon tax, ve­hi­cle in­sur­ance and now toll levies. But cer­tainly, there has to be a cost-shar­ing ar­range­ment to en­sure a neat and smooth road net­work. Govern­ment has opened up the ru­ral ar­eas through the mas­sive and un­prece­dented road in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment coun­try­wide. This in­fra­struc­ture re­quires huge fi­nanc­ing for main­te­nance and Zam­bia can­not con­tinue re­ly­ing on donor to develop and main­tain roads. The roads have to be first-rate to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion and run­ning of busi­ness in all ar­eas of the coun­try. Trav­ellers, en­trepreneurs and the gen­eral pub­lic will now spend less time on the roads be­cause of the many links that have been cre­ated. For in­stance, peo­ple trav­el­ling from Nakonde to Chama no longer have to use a me­an­der­ing route through Lusaka to Chipata, Lun­dazi then Chama. They have a shorter route from Nakonde through Ma­tumbo be­fore Chin­sali to Chama district while those in Kabwe will not have to go to Lusaka be­fore get­ting to Mumbwa. They will have to use Land­less Cor­ner to Mumbwa from Kabwe. In or­der to main­tain the net­work, the plazas are a re­li­able mech­a­nism to raise fi­nanc­ing on a sus­tain­able ba­sis. It is an in­ter­na­tional prac­tice. There­fore, toll plazas are not mon­sters!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zambia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.