SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Livingstone
TRANSPORT, Works, Supply and Communications Minister Yamfwa Mukanga will soon engage the Ministry of Finance over the recently hiked Road Safety and Transport Agency (RTSA) fees which have sparked protests by some motorists.
Mr Mukanga has also described as illegal the planned increment in transport fares because various stakeholders have not yet met to discuss the proposed increment.
The minister said he has already discussed with President Lungu the recently hiked RTSA fees and hopes the matter will soon be addressed.
He was speaking in an interview in Monze on Sunday after he officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of new offices for the South Zambia Conference (SZC) of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Mr Mukanga said it was unacceptable for taxi drivers and other motorists in Livingstone to protest by putting stones on roads and burning tyres over the matter.
â€œI have heard the concern from motorists over the hiked RTSA fees and I will try to address it with the Ministry of Finance and see what we can do.
â€œIf the new fees are so high, then it is not acceptable. I have already spoken to the republican President and so it is something we need to address,â€ he said.
Mr Mukanga said there were better channels that the motorists could have used to air their grievances instead of rioting in the city.
He explained the misconception that RTSA increased the fees, saying it was the unit fee which had changed from the Ministry of Finance and penalty fees were still the same.
â€œWhat has changed is that the Ministry of Finance came up with a Statutory Instrument (SI) number 41 of 2015, which changes the value of a unit fee from 20 Ngwee to 30 Ngwee.
â€œNow since they changed at the Ministry of Finance, the first area where it was noticed was in the area of transport and so what it has done is that it has increased the fees across the board and not only in the transport sector,â€ Mr Mukanga said.
On suggestions by some transport operators to hike fares in view of recent increments in fuel prices, Mr Mukanga described the action as another illegality.
â€œAs far as I am concerned, I am not convinced as to why they should increase transport fares because if you recall, the pump price eight months ago was almost similar to what it is today. When we reduced the prices in January 2015, I requested everyone to come on board and discuss but they refused and so I am also refusing the increment because the prices have now come back to what they used to be,â€ Mr Mukanga said.
He urged transport operators to maintain the fares because they made a profit when there was a reduction in fuel prices.