BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
SEPTEMBER 1 this year marked exactly three years since Government made the revolutionary announcement to transfer the implementation of the National Road Tolling Programme (NRTP) from Road Development Agency (RDA) to the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA).
This date is historical for the Zambian road sector as it culminated in the appointment of NRFA as the Lead Tolls Agent on 15th September 2015 by the Tolls Authority RDA, pursuant to the provisions of the Tolls Act No. 14 of 2011. The NRFA is responsible for the operation of all designated toll stations in the country.
During this period of assigned oversight of the NRTP, the NRFA has attained notable achievements, including launching all vehicle class tolling at Manyumbi and Kafulafuta on January 15, 2016 as part of phase 2 of the NRTP.
The NRFA also successfully spearheaded the enactment of tolling regulations under Statutory Instrument No. MJ 85 of 2016, which introduced road user value proposition in Local User Discounts (LUDs) and Frequent User Discounts (FUDs) all aimed at promoting Willingness to Pay (WTP) and therefore encouraging social acceptance for tolling.
It also rolled out blue chip Next Generation Toll Stations at four state-of-the-art toll plazas on the periphery of Lusaka indexed Shimabala on T2; Katuba T2; Mumbwa M9 and Chongwe T4;
Further, the NRFA commissioned the third regime of toll stations named Simplified Toll Station, which is a hallmark of innovation to fit financing capacity for toll infrastructure development in low volume roads mainly in rural parts of the country as well as providing employment opportunities of over 250 headcount in the tolling value chain as at end August 2018.
In terms of revenue, the NRFA collected national toll revenues in excess of K564.752 million from 2016 to August 2018 from both ports of entry and inland toll stations, of which 35 percent or K196.249 million is attributable to direct tolling activities at inland toll stations administered by the Road Fund Agency;
The NRFA also introduced the concept of electronic tolling as an innovative cashless payment platform in line with the Seventh National Development Plan 7NDP, whereby the agency registered 33,696 number of electronic transactions amounting to a toll revenue collection of K3.472 million;
NRFA public relations manager Alphonsius Hamachila said the NRFA piloted the concept of a control centre at its headquarters in Lusaka using internal resources at controlled cost, which has leveraged on a Wide Area Network (WAN) supplied by partners Zamtel and resulting in the real-time monitoring of tolling operations at activities at the head office.
“This capacity has earned the Agency improved reaction time to faults in line with the strategic themes of Operational Efficiency and Service Excellence plus enabled third eye visibility to uphold integrity in our operations,” Mr Hamachila said.
He also said the NRFA introduced partners in the dual role of maintaining toll plazas surroundings through landscaping activities while leveraging their compensation through leasing advertising space. The agency believes the fourth strategic objective of increase resources entails increasing toll revenues as well as reducing expenditure.
“[The NRFA] used the NRTP as an enabler to financing road infrastructure programmes through various financing arrangements such as the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA), a facility worth K2.126 billion which has supported the completion of road rehabilitation and upgrade projects from Ndola to Kitwe T3, Kitwe to Chingola T3 and Chingola to Solwezi T5,” Mr Hamachila said.
He explained that the NRFA, working together with the RDA, will this year commence road tolling at the following toll stations at Kyabankanka on the Solwezi-Chavuma road at Mutanda Junction, the Michael Chilufya Sata Toll Gate on the Ndola-Kitwe dual carriageway, the Chilonga Toll Gate on the Serenje-Mpika road and the Mweeke on the Kaoma-Mongu road.
Others are at Tapo on the Mongu-Kalabo road and Lui on the Sesheke-Senenga road.
“Other toll stations are at various levels of construction and the nation will be updated once completed for and on the actual commencement of road tolling operations,” Mr Hamachila said.
The toll stations under construction and nearing completion are Choma Toll Gate on the Monze-Choma road, the Garneton Toll Gate on the Kitwe-Chingola road, Chingola Junction Toll Gate on the Chingola-Solwezi road and the Kamiza Toll Gate on the Nyimba-Petauke road.
Others are the Chiwoko Toll Gate on the Katete-Chipata road, Livingstone Toll Gate on Zimba-Livingstone road, Mkushi Toll Gate on Kapiri Mposhi-Mkushi road, Ntoposhi Toll Gate on Mansa-Chipili road, Musaila Toll Gate on Mansa-Samfya road, the Sabina Toll Gate on Kalushi-Sabina road and the Mpongwe Toll Gate on Mpongwe-Luansobe road.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka