THE introduction of tolling fees in the last quarter of last year has many benefits as this will ensure that the government has money for maintaining roads and constructing new high ways to ease transportation of goods and services.
This is an initiative we welcome because it will eventually lessen pressure on the treasury and ensure that there is money to keep roads in good standards.
There has been debate about whether Zambia needs toll fees from toll gates but we think yes the country needs toll gates from which tolls can be collected so that the funds are used to improve the road network.
Some members of the public are of the view that toll fees are not necessary or the country does not have capacity to build such infrastructure.
A toll road is a privately or public built road for which the driver pays a toll fee for using to improve roads.
Phase 1 of the national road tolling programme started on November 1, 2013.
After this, it is anticipated that toll gates will be built on all major highways where motorists will be required whenever they use parts of the road.
So far, Zambia has raised K22 million from the tolling fees and this money has been realised from just a few weigh bridges and ports of entry since the implementation of the national tolling fees started.
This clearly shows the programme has potential to raise substantial amounts of money once it is fully implemented across the country.
Minister of Transport Works, Supply and Communications Yanfwa Mukanga revealed that for last month, we collected K22 million which will help government to improve and maintain roads.
The minister explained that the more money is expected to be collected once infrastructure is put in place.
This money is just from weigh bridges and Government plans constructing 26 toll gates on border posts while another 26 will be constructed on major roads.
This clearly shows that the tolling system will be very effective once infrastructure is put in place and can bring in a lot of money for infrastructure development.
Considering that the first phase is just for heavy vehicles and the tolling fees are just from weigh bridges, there is no doubt that tolling fees will be a major money spinner for road expansion and maintenance.
But much as we welcome the toll fees and anticipated construction of toll gates, there is the challenge of how the money will be used.
It is very important that the money is guarded jealously to avoid misapplication because if this was to happen it would defeat the purpose of toll gates.
The tolling took effect on November 1, 2013 for heavy vehicles at weigh bridges and ports of entry following the enactment of Toll Act number 14 of 2011 that authorises the Road Development Agency to operate toll points and construct toll gates.
As we welcome the idea of tolling and the funds raised so far, we would like to urge the RDA to ensure that the money is managed properly so that motorists who will be paying also benefit.
Other than that it is well known that a good road network helps economic growth and saves lives through reduced accidents.