The recent toll hike by government has seen motorists devising new strategies to evade paying at the tollgates.
Many motorists in the city and surrounding areas are risking their cars by using bush roads to evade paying the toll fees, which they say are now beyond their reach.
The government recently hiked toll fees by a staggering 100 percent, with small cars now required to pay $2, up from $1, while haulage trucks will fork out $10, up from $5.
Motorists driving to Masvingo from Mutare are now following a new bush road from before the tollgate near 22 Miles. The kilometre-long narrow, bumpy road links them to the main tarred road near Marange turn off. The motorists risk damaging their tyres as the road is rocky, with some gullies. At night they switch off their lights to avoid detection by the police manning the tollgate as the dirt route runs side-by-side with the main road.
Those going to Harare are now opting to go via Old Mutare near Africa University and join the main road at Odzi Country Club. This means they only have to pay at one tollgate in Rusape. The Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA) is likely to lose quite a significant amount of revenue as a result of the new bush roads.
“We have no choice because this is daylight robbery. I need to fork out $100 every week on tollgates for delivering horticulture products to Marondera. Where on earth will I get that amount?” queried Tatenda Murimwa, 33, a truck driver.
His sentiments were echoed by Chris Tangwara, 35, a kombi driver who said at the end of the day they were working for government while their families suffer.
“We pay the police at the roadblocks and now we need to pay tollgates. This new toll fee structure must be revised down or we will be forced to use these bush roads. We have no choice,” he said.
A Zinara, official who declined to be named, confirmed that there has been a decline in the number of commuter omnibuses crossing the tollgate at 22 Miles since the toll fee increase was effected.
“I think the fee is unjustified given that our economy is underperforming. The money will only benefit the fat cats while the majority will continue to wallow in poverty,” said the official.
Lovemore Madhuku’s National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) on Friday filed an urgent High Court application seeking the setting aside of the toll fee increase, arguing that Transport Minister Obert Mpofu used the wrong instrument in effecting the increase.
The NCA becomes the second organisation that has approached the High Court in an attempt to force the government to reverse the increase.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) was first to go to court arguing that the government was in breach of Section 68 of the Constitution which demands that the state consults citizens on such issues. Judgment has since been reserved in the matter.