With only days to go before Zambia institutes a new toll for foreign-registered vehicles that already pay entry-and-exit tariffs, netting the landlocked country about $160 000 a day, transporters are desperate for intervention.
This emerged after a “Public Notice” went up at various road-use transit points across the country stating: “Dear esteemed customer, effective 19th October 2020, foreign-registered vehicles shall pay designated tolls both at ports of entry and inland toll stations in accordance with Statutory Instrument No. 74 of 2020.”
The notice prompted a member of Transist Assistance Bureau to ask: “Are we going to pay double for toll fees in Zambia?”
Another message sent through to Transist said: “We need answers urgently. Unfortunately, due to the time frame, we can’t have trucks sitting at toll gates with no money and idea who to pay.”
Transist has since said: “We are working on having this overturned before implementation. We have spoken to Truckers’ Association of Zambia and they are in regular communication with the National Road Fund Agency (Zambia’s toll authority).”
According to a transporter of bulk fuel in and out of the Copperbelt area spread across the north-eastern border of Zambia into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), truck drivers will have to pay about 150 kwacha every time they pass through a toll gate.
In South African rand terms that’s more than R122 each time.
On the North-South Corridor stretching through Zambia into the DRC’s copper mining area, there are six toll gates transporters have to pass through from entering the country south at Chirundu heading towards the DRC border at Kasumbalesa via Ndola.
The number of operational toll stations in the whole of Zambia, a transporter has said, totals 27.
Transist recently said that in addition to the $160 000 Zambia already raised through entry-and-exit tariffs payable by foreign-registered trucks, the new tolls would raise an additional $94 000 a day.
With regard to how the tolls will have to be paid, transporters have been informed that it will either have to be done in cash, with considerable security risk to drivers, or by using the much safer SMS system of Africa Transport Forex – at additional cost.
Considering the fact that the new tolls have already been passed as a Zambian statute, it seems unlikely that the severely cash-strapped government of President Edward Lungu will reverse the decision.
Dependent on neighbouring countries for its port shipment, Lusaka has clearly figured out that it can get as good as it gets as an important transit country.
Transporters, however, already on the rim of dwindling profit margins, are exasperated by the challenges of remaining afloat in the face of extreme rising costs.