The tolls on the 287 kilometre long road should have taken effect on 1 December, but bitter protests that the purposed tolls were “exorbitant” led the government’s Road Fund to postpone the start of collection to 1 January.
The road has been completely rebuilt, including three toll gates, at Dondo, Nhamatanda and Chimoio. Under the initial scheme, light vehicles would pay 90 meticais (1.4 US dollars) at Dondo, 250 meticais at Nhamatanda, and 380 meticais at Chimoio – thus for the entire journey from Beira to Machipanda on the Zimbabwean border a light vehicle would pay total tolls of 720 meticais (11.25 dollars).
The tolls rise depending on the weight of the vehicle. The proposed tolls for the heaviest goods vehicles for the three toll gates taken together, would be 5,410 meticais.
There had never been any tolls on the Beira-Zimbabwe highway before, which helps explain the poor condition of the road, prior to the reconstruction, which began on 1 April 2015. The rehabilitation and widening of the road cost about 411 million dollars, financed by the Exim Bank of China and the Mozambican government.
President Filipe Nyusi inaugurated the rebuilt highway on 14 November, when it was announced that the time taken to drive from Beira to Machipanda has fallen from seven to four hours.
But somebody has to pay for such improvements. When he announced that tolls would be collected, the Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, said they would be used to maintain the road so that the burden of maintenance no longer falls exclusively on the Mozambican state.
Protesting vigorously against the new tolls, the Transport Associations from Sofala and Manica provinces met with Machatine, and succeeded in postponing the introduction of the tolls by a month.
According to a report in the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique”, these negotiations also succeeded in dramatically reducing the tolls. Thus a light vehicle driving all the way from Beira to Machipanda will pay 340 meticais, rather than 720 – a cut of 53 per cent.
Much more serious, road haulage companies will benefit from an even steeper cut in the toll paid. The heaviest trucks will pay, at the three toll gates, a total of 2,280 meticais, a reduction of 57.8 per cent.
At the Chimoio toll gate, the toll for heavy goods vehicles falls from 2,870 to 1,100 meticais, an extraordinary cut of 61.7 per cent.
These heavy trucks are the vehicles that cause most damage to roads – yet they are the ones that will benefit most from the reductions in the tolls.
There will be discounts for local residents, and for public transport vehicles. These discounts are unchanged between the original proposal and the new tolls.
Thus local residents will pay 300 meticais a month to use the road at each of the toll gates. The toll for passenger vehicles is 500 meticais at each gate: thus a bus driving from Beira to the Zimbabwean border will pay 1,500 meticais.
The Sofala Provincial Association of Transport Operators (ASTROS) welcomed the reduction in the tolls and told “Carta de Mocambique” that it reflects the discussions held between the transport operators and the authorities earlier this month.
Nonetheless ASTROS threatened that the new tolls will lead to road haulage companies increasing their charges.
The Beira-Zimbabwe road will be operated by the newly-created company Revimo. Although it was said that this would be a private-public venture, in fact it is currently 100 per cent owned by the Road Fund.Post published in: Africa News