MASERU — A South African consultancy firm has recommended the setting up of six more toll gates on the country’s busiest roads in a move that was immediately slammed by taxi operators.
In its final report presented to the government last Tuesday, Tolpan (Pty) Ltd said it had identified the Maputsoe — Teya-Teyaneng; Teya-Teyaneng — Maseru; Mazenod — Roma; Mazenod — Morija; Morija — Mafeteng; and Mafeteng — Mohale’s Hoek roads for the proposed toll gates.
The company said the six road corridors had the highest volumes of traffic and would be ideal for raising much-needed revenue to maintain road infrastructure.
“After conducting traffic counts at 12 selected locations in potential corridors and after an assessment of the conditions of a part of the Lesotho primary road infrastructure, the six road sections were identified as potential toll corridors based on the average daily traffic volumes,” Tolplan said.
Tolpan (Pty) Ltd was engaged by the government of Lesotho to investigate the economic and legal implications of introducing more toll fees for road users across the country.
Currently toll fees are only charged at the Maseru and Maputsoe border posts.
The South African company is working with the Road Fund that was established by the government to raise funds to build and maintain roads.
The government says introducing the toll fees will shift the burden of financing and maintaining road infrastructure from general taxes to road users.
The recommendations to set up new toll gates will however need to be turned into law first through an Act of parliament before a time-frame can be set for the approval and implementation of the project.
The executive secretary of Road Fund, Refiloe Pule, said the new trend is to manage roads like a business.
He said the “fee-for-service”concept meant that road users have to pay commensurate fees for the use of roads.
This allows for the sustainable maintenance of roads.
The decision to set up toll gates was immediately criticised by the Maseru Road Transport Operators who said it was concerned that their members would pay a lot of money because of the nature of their business.
“The toll fees will eat into our profits and this will threaten the viability of the industry,” the association said in a statement.
However, Pule allayed the transporters’ fears and indicated that frequent road users would be given discounts.
According to Tolplan’s recommendations local user discounts would also be offered to road users on some routes, depending on the distance they travel.