By Alois Vinga
THE MDC Alliance has criticised the latest increase on tollgate fees made less than two months after another hike and come when most citizens face serious economic hardships due to the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
Last week, and with immediate effect, the government gazetted the payment of tollgate fees in US dollars or their equivalent in line with the obtaining Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe foreign currency auction’s rates.
However, in a statement Sunday, MDC Alliance secretary for transport, Settlement Chikwinya described the latest increase as a “burden and disproportionate.”
“In November 2020, the Government of Zimbabwe through ZINARA raised toll fees by 170% from 45 RTGS to 120 RTGS. Before 60 days have lapsed, the government has further increased the toll fees by a further 38% from 120 RTGS to 165 RTGS,” he said.
ZINARA is the Zimbabwe National Road Administration.
Chikwinya, who is also MP for Mbizo, said the recent increment further compounded the woes of already burdened and struggling citizens.
He added the government had legalised the collection of toll fees in US dollars and the charges will automatically increase in RTGS terms every time the exchange rate changes upwards.
“What also evades the mind of policymakers is the reality that the auction rate is reported to be stagnant for the past six months and, therefore, it remains baffling to have an increment of close to 200 % compound in less than 60 days,” Chikwinya said.
He warned the latest hike on the toll fees had a potential to increase inflationary pressures on prices of goods and services as companies will be left with no choice except to pass the costs to the consuming public.
“In a functional democracy, faced with such heartless and unreasonable astronomic increases in toll fees, motorists would drive into highways and park their cars en-mass blocking all highways until the government becomes sensible and realistic to the economic challenges facing all of us.
“Unfortunately, ours is an authoritarian dictatorship where freedom of expression is met by bullets flying at 45 degrees.”