Maputo — Mozambique's Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, announced on Sunday that tolls will be charged on the newly rebuilt road from the central port of Beira to Zimbabwe, as from 1 December.
Speaking in Lichinga, capital of the northern province of Niassa, where he inaugurated the provincial delegation of the Road Fund, Machatine said a public-private partnership would operate major roads, and collect the tolls, including on the Beira Corridor.
Cited by the independent television station STV, the Minister said the Beira-Zimbabwe highway is one of the roads with the highest levels of traffic in the country - which is one of the reasons why it deteriorated so badly that complete reconstruction was required.
The tolls, Machatine said, would be used to maintain the road, and will mean that the burden of maintenance no longer falls exclusively on the Mozambican state.
Machatine said that private-public partnerships, headed by the Road Fund, will also manage the Maputo Ring Road, and the Maputo-Katembe suspension bridge over the Bay of Maputo.
Currently toll roads in Mozambique are restricted to the Maputo-South Africa motorway, operated by the South African company Trans-African Concessions (TRAC), and a few key bridges such as the Maputo-Katembe bridge.
For many years the government has been promising tolls on all major roads - but so far it has never had the courage to implement those promises. The 74 kilometre long Maputo Ring Road opened about three years ago, and since then vehicles of all sizes have been using it free of charge. Absurdly, it was said that lack of money prevented the authorities from installing toll gates.
The absence of toll gates means that heavy goods vehicles, often overloaded, continue to destroy Mozambican roads, and do not pay a cent for their maintenance.
Machatine saw a key role for the Road Fund - but in order to manage key roads "it must modernise", he said.
The reconstruction of the Beira-Zimbabwe road included three toll gates, at Dondo and Nhamatanda in Sofala province, and at Vanduzi in Manica. All should start their operations on 1 December. Machatine did not say how much motorists will be charged at the toll gates.