17 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Toll-Gates Fee Increase War Rages On As NCA Appeals

THE High Court fight to force the government to reverse its 100 percent hike on toll-gate charges is far from over.

New political outfit, the NCA, on Thursday said while it welcomed the ruling that threw out its challenge against the hike, it would however appeal the decision.

The opposition party led by constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku rejected the basis upon which the government has tried to justify the increase.

"We accept the ruling of the High Court against the NCA urgent application seeking to set aside the illegal 100 percent hike.

"The NCA party insists that the increment, although legally valid, has no moral basis and ignores the plight of the ordinary motorist and passengers to whom those costs will be passed," the statement said.

The NCA added that it was appalled that the quality of national roads remains deplorable and "cannot justify the pre-existing charge on the motorist before the said toll fees increment".

"As NCA we note that the accountability and transparency of the collection and distribution of the toll fees is questionable and needs to be thoroughly addressed.

"NCA believes that the motorists and passengers should insist on the need for accountability and resist increases that are oppressive and morally unjustifiable," the party added.

Madhuku's party last week filed an urgent High Court application seeking the setting aside of the toll fees increase.

In court papers the opposition party averred that Transport Minister Obert Mpofu used the wrong instrument in effecting the increase.

The NCA challenge followed hot on the heels of another challenge by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). Both applications were thrown out.

ZLHR argued that the government was in breach of Section 68 of the Constitution which demands that the state consults citizens on such issues.

Under the new toll fees, which came into effect July 11, motorists on private vehicles now pay $2, up from $1. Minibuses' toll fees were hiked from $2 to $3 and buses from $3 to $4.

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

The NCA called on government to provide specific plans, budgets, projections and time frames for the improvement of roads on which they collect the premium.

"The Zanu PF government must be sensitive to the need for consultations to ensure the increases are accounted for in the long term commercial and household financial forecasting.

"NCA party remains anxious and displeased on the toll fees increment. We request for revision on this government policy and ask for consultation on this issue of toll fees increment."

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