In November 2020, the government of Zimbabwe through ZINARA raised toll fees by 170% from 45RTGS to 120 RTGS. In less than 2 months, the government has further increased toll fees by a further 38 percent from 120RTGS to 165 RTGS.
Sadly these increments are a burden on the traveller whose income continues to be depleted by the day. To further compound the woes for the traveling poor masses, the government has legalised the collection of toll fees in USD capped by a pronouncement that Toll fees will automatically increase in RTGS terms as and when the exchange rate changes upwards.
The MDC Alliance appreciates that under such COVID-19 induced lockdown conditions, most travellers are civil servants in essential service. It therefore goes against logic that civil servants whose salaries are RTGS based and have not been increased to match the Pre RTGS era are the same salaries that are supposed to sustain Toll fees that have now been pegged to match the time when the country was under the USD era.
What evades the mind of policy makers is the reality that the auction rate is reported to be stagnant for the past 6 months and therefore it remains baffling to have an increment of close to 200 percent in less than 60 days.
Transport remains a critical component in the cost buildup of any business. Where toll fees are increased, fuel equally increased, means that the landed costs of any product or service rise by an equal measure and is sadly borne by the consumer.
No sane government would effect an increase in toll fees to an already overburdened citizenry. We therefore call on Mr. Mnangagwa’s government to head the call by labour unions to align salaries to the USD pre October 2018 era.
What is more painstaking is that while travellers pay such huge amounts through toll fees, reports of corruption and looting of funds at ZINARA continue unabated yet our roads have become death traps.
Hon Settlement Chikwinya (MP)
National Secretary for Transport and Logistics