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Lawyers Take Minister to Court Over Tollgate Charges, Funds

The Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) says it needs nearly $2 billion to rebuild and maintain the country’s road network. (ZINARA website)

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is on Tuesday expected to take Transport Minister Obert Mpofu to court seeking to compel government to fully account for money it has been collecting from the country’s tollgates introduced in 2009.

ZLHR lawyer, Jeremiah Bamu, told VOA LiveTalk on Monday that his organization is still in the process of preparing a court application to challenge the action taken by Transport Minister Obert Mpofu.

“Unfortunately, I cannot say a lot about this issue as we are preparing the papers but we anticipate that by the end of day tomorrow (Tuesday) something will have been filed in court,” said Bamu.

In a letter sent last month to Mpofu, the ZLHR’s Public Interest Litigation Unit requested the ministry to provide the total collections from the inception of the tollgate system to date.

It wants the ministry to provide a breakdown of the collections per tollgate, a breakdown of the allocation and use of funds collected from the commencement of the tollgate system to date.

It further wants the names of entities involved in the construction and rehabilitation of the tollgates and the amounts due and payable to them.

The ZLHR also wants the ministry to provide audited financial statements of the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) dating back to 2009.

The government on Friday imposed an immediate 100 percent hike in tollgate charges, doubling fees for motorists and haulage truck drivers.

Mpofu announced in a government gazette that private motorists will now pay $2 up from $1 at every toll gate, while haulage trucks will fork out $10, up from $5.

Minibuses will pay $3, buses $4 and heavy vehicles $5. Part of the revenue is expected to be used for revamping roads and related infrastructure.

Most motorists say there is no visible change on highways, which are full of potholes.

ZINARA)says it needs nearly $2 billion to rebuild and maintain the country’s road network.

An audit of the ZINARA Roads and Road Traffic Fund early this year by the comptroller and auditor general indicated that the road authority could not account for at least $6 million for the year 2011.

Mpofu says there is need to help the public understand tollgate increases.