Editor's Comment

Toll plazas are the way to go

A MOTORIST pays toll fees at Kafulafuta on Ndola-Kapiri Road. Government recently introduced Road Toll Gates on Great North Road. PICTURE: MATHEWS KABAMBA.

WALKING the talk is the best way in which to satisfy an expectant public and silencing armchair critics. This is more so for politicians who invariably and inevitably have to make promises – talk – to win the support of the public.
There is, however, often the challenge of fulfilling – walking – these promises.
And so when promises are fulfilled it is only right to give credit where it is due and to encourage those that have walked the talk to keep on this path.
A case in point is the news that the much-awaited toll plazas at Katuba, Mumbwa and Shimabala are scheduled to start operating this month.
This means that road tolling at Katuba, Mumbwa and Shimabala is also expected to commence this month. This is a promise fulfilled.
This is a commendable feat by the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) in bringing on board more revenue streams for the government.
The toll plazas are being built at a huge cost to Government and it is only proper that they are utilised for the intended purpose.
Apart from the toll plazas at Katuba, Mumbwa and Shimabala, full-scale construction works at the Chongwe toll plaza will commence once the weather has become favourable.
The Chongwe plaza will have four booths, with two each serving the east bound and west bound traffic. The decision to build toll plazas represents a bold decision by Government to start generating revenue domestically.
While cooperating partners such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and a host of other donors have been supportive to Zambia’s quest to improve the social sectors and infrastructure, the buck rests on the country to sustain its development agenda.
Zambia is now touted as a middle-income country and this rating comes with a responsibility to begin to look internally for solutions.
Some donors such as Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands have closed their missions in Zambia because they believe that Zambia is now able to stand on its own.
Although they have closed shop, they will continue supporting the country, but their aid has reduced.
They are now giving aid to more needy nations such as Afghanistan and other emerging countries.
These are the realities Zambia has to live with because we have improved significantly economically to be able to not only support ourselves but begin to start giving aid to other countries.
Therefore, the toll plazas being constructed by Avic International at US$9.8 million represent alternatives for generating of revenue for the country’s development.
The NRA should ensure that all monies collected from the toll plazas are accounted for. Thankfully, measures have been put in place to ensure transparency in collection of this guaranteed revenue.
We also expect the NRFA to have corporate social responsibility programmes in which they will give back to the communities in which they are operating.
It will be sad for the nearby communities not to benefit from the state-of-the-art toll plazas which are an extension of Government’s elaborate infrastructure programme.
We also hope that even in its recruitment process, the NRFA will reserve a slot for jobs for people in the neighbourhood communities where they have constructed plazas.
Measures must also be in place to ensure that plazas at places such as Katuba, which has the highest traffic volume of 9,000 vehicles per day, do not cause congestion.
The eight service lanes with four booths serving the north-bound Traffic and another four booths for the South-bound traffic should be enough to allow traffic to flow freely.
This is a job well done. This is walking the talk.

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