‘Harare’s S.Machel Avenue & Bulawayo J. Nkomo/Airport Road tollgate plans’.

Government has begun identifying roads for urban tollgates, and the first targets are Harare’s Samora Machel Avenue and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo/Airport Road.

Though the exact location of the tollgates is yet to be determined, it is understood these two were picked as they are trunk roads linking central Harare and other cities and towns.

Information gathered by The Sunday Mail last week indicates the Harare tollgates will open before 2015 ends, and then more will be commissioned in other urban centres.

The Transport and Infrastructure Development Ministry and local authorities are working out appropriate sites. They will also determine how the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration and local authorities will share revenue.

There are indications that light vehicles will be tolled either USc50 or US$1 to pass through the gates, with the fee charged via electronic tolling or a prepaid system.

Under e-tolling, a tag fitted to a vehicle’s front windscreen will transmit a signal to a computer network at the toll gantry, automatically charging the appropriate toll fee to one’s account.

The prepaid system requires motorists to pay toll fees in advance and the system was rolled out for highways last week.

Zinara board chair Mr Albert Mugabe said: “Construction will start as soon as consultations end; we are ready as everything is in place. So far, Airport Road and Samora Machel Avenue have been proposed as they are trunk roads.

“The toll fees may not necessarily be the US$2 charged for small vehicles on highways. It could be as low as R5 but these are issues that are being discussed in the consultation meetings.

“We are looking at an automated system and the prepaid tolling card launched recently can be extended to urban tollgates to ease payment.”

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu said most urban councils supported the initiative, and implementation would be expedited despite criticism from motorists.

“We are speeding up the process; we want to apply these as soon as possible. As Government, we have agreed on having 30 tollgates countrywide by the end of 2015 and some of them can as well be in towns.

“Strategic points within urban areas where we can place these tollgates should be identified. It’s a question of technical and scientific identification and discussing with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.”

Dr Mpofu added: “The preferred system in urban centres is e-tolling, but it is up to those seized with consultations to decide on what type of tolling will be used. Where there is a vehicle, especially the magnitude of vehicles that we see in town (Harare), they require some form of levy to allow motorists to contribute towards their driving comfort.

“We have had a lot of critics who are, in this case, a minority but the majority want us to start this process. My colleagues, especially in the Ministry of Local Government, are very supportive. The mayors of Bulawayo and Harare and town clerks of other urban areas are very supportive. So, we are going to do it.”

Zimbabwe introduced toll gates in August 2009 to raise highway maintenance funds and more than US$370 million has been collected since.

Of this, US$29 million has been disbursed to local authorities for road repairs and construction in their jurisdictions.

In 2013, Government resolved to expand the initiative to urban centres to help decongest and rid them of unroadworthy vehicles, reduce carbon emissions and finance infrastructure development. Source: sundaymail

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