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Tollgate revamp to boost vehicle handling

THE Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) says its plan to revamp the tollgate network is aimed at accommodating a projected 5% growth in traffic this year.

In an interview with businessdigest, Zinara chairperson George Manyaya said 100 000 vehicles were last year passing through tollgates daily.

The number was projected to rise to 125 000 this year.

“On average we currently have daily traffic volumes of 100 000 vehicles passing through our toll gates and our traffic statistics are expected to increase by at least 125 000 daily, as per 5% annual projections,” he said.

Zimbabwe has been importing about 60 000 used cars annually.

An additional 4 000 new vehicles enter the country’s road network annually, according to Amtec Motors managing director, Lucas Taruvinga.

The local fleet adds to regional traffic, mostly composed of cross border cargo trucks and passenger coaches.

Regional traffic has gained traction in the past decade, as cargo flow across Sadc increases.

Traffic is projected to rise as the African Continental Free Trade Area grows, and Zimbabwe’s tolling system would be vital in collecting funding for upgrading the road network.

Manyaya said the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development was transforming small tollgates into plazas in order to accommodate higher traffic volumes.

“In terms of our plans, our Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is at an advanced stage in upgrading our tollgates to standard toll plazas like the ones on the Plumtree-Mutare highway. This is going to be done in phases and we have already started with Norton, and we will be moving to Shamva shortly,” Manyaya said.

“The bids for the upgrading of Shamva tollgate are currently under evaluation. Later this year, we will be floating tenders for the design and construction of Skyline, Dema, Esigodini, Lion’s Den and Flamingo to standard toll plazas.”

Under the tollgate revamp plan, the Skyline facility would have 12 lanes, the Esigodini tollgate would be upgraded to 10 lanes, Lion’s Den would increase to eight lanes, while the Flamingo tollgate would have 10 lanes.

Generally, these facilities have about four to six lanes.

Zinara is targeting to collect ZW$30 billion (US$210 million) this year, which may not be enough to fund the road rehabilitation programmes.

In February, Manyaya said Zinara would double funding for revamping the country’s crumbling road network.

Along with deploying its own funding, discussions with banks were underway to draft them into helping out, according to Manyaya, who described the state of roads as “bad”.

If an agreement is reached, banks will advance Zinara funding to repair roads to quicken the process, with the agency paying back over an agreed period.

The crisis in Zimbabwe’s road infrastructure has been compounded by almost a decade of neglect that has ended with a total collapse of major roads, as reports of profligacy at the Zinara continued with little action.

Manyaya, who is leading a new board that came into office this year, undertook to carry out a complete “revolution” in roads administration — a shift from the past that will see more disclosures and full transparency. Official data showed that while the road network administrator was determined to intervene and stop the rot, it was collecting only 10% of the funds required to reverse the damage.

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