The MDC Alliance condemns the 166% toll fee increase that has seen toll fees go up from $45 to $120 for small passenger vehicles and from $70 to $240 for passenger buses. The increase has also pushed up ‘daily return fees’ for those who live in the vicinity of a toll gate and pass a toll gate daily to get to work to as much as $3000 per month.
This exponential toll fee increase is anti-poor and is not commensurate with the wages that workers are receiving. Civil servants’ salaries have only gone up by a meagre 41%. It goes without saying that all goods and services have a transport cost imbedded in their cost structure. Therefore, an increase in transport costs will have a domino effect on the price of the goods and services. The resultant effect is a fluffier increase to the already unaffordable cost of living.
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The hardship occasioned by the toll fee increases is compounded by the fact that all government departments including the Military. the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe Prison Services, the Central Intelligence Organization, the Judiciary, Parliament, Traditional Chiefs and Zanu PF vehicles are exempt from paying toll fees. This means that institutions and people who develop and enforce policies that have a direct impact on the cost of living for the general populace exempt themselves from the harsh effects of such policies.
We are of the firm view that this toll fee increase is unjustified as motorists were subjected to another 350% increment in July 2020. The Minister of Finance continuously asserts that Government has “stabilised the exchange rate” and that inflation will decrease to a projected rate of 134% by the end of the year. However, this is not borne out by the unending price hikes in respect of goods and services, including the latest increase in toll fees.
The MDC Alliance therefore calls on the Minister of Finance to use the 2021 Budget Presentation to review the toll fee increase and align road user fees to the prevailing cost of living anchored on the affordability of such basic services by the lowest paid civil servant. Only a holistic resolution to the fundamental sociopolitical and economic issues affecting our country can sustainably address the evident inflationary environment that is adversely affecting the common person.
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