MDC Alliance slams ‘anti-poor’ toll fee hike by govt

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By Idah Mhetu

MDC Alliance on Monday condemned the recent 166% toll fee hike by government saying the move did not match current wages among ordinary citizens.

In a statement, MDC Alliance’s National Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Settlement Chikwinya said the increase has pushed the daily return fees for those who daily use toll gates and are within the proximity.

Last week, government announced new toll fees which will see light motor vehicle motorists parting with ZWL $120, up from ZWL$45 whilst haulage trucks will fork out ZWL$590, up from ZWL$225.

“The MDC Alliance condemns the 166% toll fee increase that has seen toll fees go up from $45 to $120 for small passenger vehicles and from $70 to $240 for passenger buses.

“The increase has also pushed up ‘daily return fees’ for those who live in the vicinity of a toll gate and pass a toll gate daily to get to work to as much as $3000 per month,”  said Chikwinya.

The opposition lawmaker said the increase did not meet the needs of the poor.

“This exponential toll fee increase is anti-poor and is not commensurate with the wages that workers are receiving,” he said.

“Civil servants’ salaries have only gone up by a meagre 41%. It goes without saying that all goods and services have a transport cost embedded in their cost structure.

“Therefore, an increase in transport costs will have a domino effect on the price of the goods and services. The resultant effect is a further increase to the already unaffordable cost of living.

“We are of the firm view that this toll fee increase is unjustified as motorists were subjected to another 350% increment in July 2020.

“The Minister of Finance continuously asserts that government has ‘stabilised the exchange rate’ and that inflation will decrease to a projected rate of 134% by the end of the year.

“However, this is not borne out by the unending price hikes in respect of goods and services, including the latest increase in toll fees.”

Chikwinya also called on the Minister of Finance to use the 2021 Budget Presentation to review the toll fees and align them to reflect the economic realities of the citizens.