11 July 2014

Zimbabwe: 'Going to Court Won't Stop Toll Hike'

Photo: The Herald
Toll Gate in zimbabwe.

THE Zimbabwe National Roads Administration will go ahead with charging the new toll fees announced last week which effected an increase of 100 percent in some cases, despite the application filed at the High Court to stop the new charges which take effect this morning.

The High Court will this morning hear the urgent chamber application in which the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights challenged the increase.

Zinara lawyer Mr Farai Mutamangira yesterday said they would implement the new fees.

"A mere fact that an application has been filed does not stop us from implementing the Statutory Instrument," he said.

"We can only be stopped by a court order."

The group of lawyers wants Statutory Instrument 106 /14, which contained the increases, to be set aside pending finalisation of the case.

The matter will be heard in Justice Joseph Mafusire's chambers.

Government last week gazetted the Toll Roads (Regional Trunk Road Network) (Amendment) Regulations, 2014 under SI 106/ 2014, which increased toll fees for light private vehicles from US$1 to US$2.

Minibuses' toll fees were hiked from US$2 to US$3 and buses from US$3 to US$4.

Heavy vehicles are now being charged US$5, up from US$4, while haulage truck drivers are now leaving US$10 at the toll gates up from US$5.

The new toll fees, according to the public notice, will be effective from this morning.

ZLHR described the increase as arbitrary, oppressive and punitive considering that motorists were already reeling from the old fees in an environment where disposable incomes are depressed.

ZLHR, on behalf of motorists, instructed its lawyers Mr Joshua Shekede and Mr Givemore Madzoka of Wintertons law firm to file the urgent chamber application for the suspension of the Statutory Instrument.

The lawyers argued that the economy was not doing well and motorists were already grappling under the old toll fees and that imposing a 100 percent increase was unreasonable.

They argued that the increase in toll fees was done in an "arbitrary and oppressive fashion" and that no consultation was done with the motoring public as required by the law.

Harare lawyer Mr Selby Hwacha, a member of ZLHR, deposited a founding affidavit laying out the basis of the challenge.

In the affidavit, Mr Hwacha stated that the fees were unfair to the motoring public, hence in breach of Section 3 of the Administrative Justice Act which compels all policies to be reasonable and fair.

Mr Hwacha argued that Dr Mpofu had not justified the need for toll fees increases.

ZLHR contends that it once asked Dr Mpofu to account for the money collected from toll points for the past five years, but no meaningful response was given.

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