FINANCE minister Margaret Mwanakatwe says road tolling is one of the most successful programmes implemented by the PF government and has disclosed that the initiative, since inception in 2013 to date, has raised a total of K2.2 billion.
In a speech read on her behalf by Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba during the official opening of the African Road Maintenance Funds Association southern Africa Focal Group (ASAFG) four day workshop held at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday, Mwanakatwe said road totaling was being implemented by the NRFA “with well-established internal systems and controls which gives stakeholders confidence that tolls collected are well accounted for and utilised for road maintenance, construction and rehabilitation in line with the tolls Act number 14 of 2011.”
“I am happy to announce that road tolling is one of the most successful programmes implemented by my government through the NRFA,” Mwanakatwe noted.
“Road tolling in Zambia is still in its infancy but from the time the programme commenced in 2013 to date, a total of K2.2 billion or US$220 million has been raised from which we have financed major road projects, including the ongoing construction of the Kazungula bridge at the border between Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Once completed the Kazungula bridge would facilitate regional trade, commerce and investment through improved efficiency for transit traffic and reduction on the prolonged period of time that local and international freight would have to spend on either side of the border.”
The minister added that the government was also leveraging on the tolls collected to raise additional financing.
“In this, Ministry of Finance, through NRFA, raised a total of K2.12 billion or US$ 212 million from the pension fund (NAPSA) for financing of rehabilitation and upgrading the trade corridor linking two major mining provinces; the Copperbelt and North-Western provinces, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola to the rest of Zambia,” she noted, adding that the public-to-public investment facility was a win-win solution as it provided a cost-effective financing mechanism.
And Mwanakatwe observed that while financial resources that Road Funds in Africa were entrusted with by respective governments were so huge, they could not be enough to meet the ever rising demand for road infrastructure development.
“Therefore, I urge you to ensure that road-users get value for money by conducting technical and financial audits to account for good quality works on the ground. In this vein, I wish to pay tribute to the National Road Fund Agency for providing the necessary checks and balances which resulted in savings of over K77 million or US$7.7 million from 2011 to date through the internal control systems,” said Mwanakatwe.
“In the wake of the widening gap between the required financial resources and the available resource envelope, I urge this workshop to think outside the box and explore non-traditional sources of funding for road infrastructure development and maintenance currently financed mainly through fuel levy, tolls and other road user charges.”
NRFA board chairperson Christabel Michelle Banda, quoting former US president John F Kennedy who said ultimately it is not our wealth that will build our roads but it is our roads that will build our wealth, indicated that: “it is a known fact that a good road network helps in spurring development.”
NRFA acting chief executive officer Wallace Mumba lauded Mwanakatwe for the unwavering support she has continued to render to the Agency “which has given us a renewed level of energy and a clear strategic direction towards a sustainable road fund.”
The workshop’s theme is ‘innovative financing for road infrastructure.’