TRANSPORT, Communication and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu has justified an imminent increase in toll fees by almost 100 percent, saying it would result in better roads in the long run.
The minister said the government was currently collecting $40 million annually from tollgates, which is far too little to quicken the national road rehabilitation programme.
The toll fees increase, the first since tollgates were introduced in 2009, will see private motorists paying $2 up from $1 while large trucks and buses will pay $10 up from $5.
"We're not collecting much in terms of toll fees. Less than $40 million is realised per year and the country needs far much more than that to make meaningful improvements to our road network, which is in a poor state," said Dr Mpofu.
"There's need for motorists to pay a little more money to enable the government to raise funds to rehabilitate the roads and infrastructure."
The minister could not immediately provide figures of how much the government requires to fully implement its road rehabilitation programme. Dr Mpofu said Zimbabwe was charging the least toll fees in the southern region.
"If you compare Zimbabwe's toll fees with neighbouring countries, you'll find that we're charging the least fees. Road networks in other countries are perfect due to the amount of toll fees that are charged there. We've to do the same," said Dr Mpofu.
Neighbouring South Africa charges between 60 and 250 rand, depending on the size of the vehicle and the tollgate. Dr Mpofu said his ministry would ensure transparency and put down measures to make sure that the public funds are not abused.
He said he was happy that the new toll fees, which would be gazzetted soon, were agreed upon by all partners including local authorities.
"I'm pleased that Members of Parliament, councillors from all local authorities, transport operators and other partners are supporting the move. We made wide consultations and everyone is supporting the move," said Dr Mpofu.
The country has 22 tollgates and light vehicles are charged $1, while kombis pay $2 and buses pay $3. Lorries pay $4 while haulage trucks pay $5.