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BULAWAYO City Council is eager to have tollgates erected within the city as this will help raise funds to maintain the dilapidated road network, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of a one-month pothole patching initiative by the Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development ministry, Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) and the Bulawayo City Council yesterday, Transport minister Obert Mpofu said from preliminary consultations with local authorities, they were willing to erect tollgates.

"We are not going to impose tollgates in urban areas. We are still in consultations with local authorities on the matter, but indications are that they support tollgates. In talks with the mayor this morning (yesterday), he said the city is ready for the project to kick off as it is a noble initiative," he said.

Mpofu said the onus was now on his ministry on how to introduce tollgates in cities.

"Currently, people who are raising concern about state of roads are urban motorists who are not paying tollages. We should agree with all mayors on how best we could introduce tollgates in cities," he said.

Mpofu did not give a timeframe when urban tollgates would be set up, but said lack of funds was a stumbling block.

Most of Bulawayo's 2 000km road network is in a deplorable state.

In 2013, Mpofu announced that the government was considering introducing tollgates in urban centres to raise money to finance infrastructural development, decongest the city centres and reduce carbon emissions.

Cabinet last year subsequently approved the setting up of tollgates in urban areas. That has attracted the ire of motorists who feel the move will further stretch their already empty pockets.

The country's 26 tollgates, that charge a fee of $3 to $5 for different types of vehicles collect in excess of $66 million annually and about $130 million annually from road access fees, vehicle licensing, transit fees and fuel levy, among other revenue streams.

Zinara is currently in the eye of a storm for purchasing 40 graders worth $8 million, which are unsuitable for use in the country.

On potholes patching, Mpofu acknowledged that roads were in a bad state and people had complained that the initiative was concentrated in Harare.

"We have launched an initiative in Bulawayo to patch all potholes for a month. The roads are in bad shape. This is partnership with Zinara, the government, Bulawayo City Council and the private sector. We should not leave issues of roads maintenance and rehabilitation to one entity," he said.

Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo said he hoped the patching initiative would reduce potholes in the city.

"We appreciate the development. The roads have deteriorated and we hope by the end of the 30 days the potholes would be covered.

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