The National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) of Zambia this morning went ahead and started charging cross-border transporters additional fees at every toll in the country’s interior, in addition to entry-and-exit tariffs (EET).
This is in spite of efforts last week by the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta) to appeal for leniency on behalf of its members.
Fesarta chief executive Mike Fitzmaurice said at the time that charging registered vehicles for every toll they passed through would raise an additional $94 500 a day for Zambia’s fiscus.
That is on top of the $160 000 a day already raised through EETs.
“They wouldn’t listen,” Fitzmaurice said about Fesarta’s attempts to deliberate with the NRFA.
“They simply said they need the money – that’s it.”
A road map of Zambia’s vast tolling network sent through by Fesarta this morning shows that there are 27 inland collection points and 10 ports of entry.
Currently there are another five tolling stations under construction.
Without a doubt Zambia’s busiest thoroughfare is the road from Chirundu on the border with Zimbabwe to Lusaka and Ndola further north from where it curves east to the Copperbelt on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Of the 25 interior collection points, at least nine can be found on this route – clear indication of Zambia’s intention to raise as much revenue as possible through its well-trafficked transit system.
The fact that they have transporters over a barrel in a classic “cough up and carry on” choke hold could however speed up initiatives to diversify the freight movement out of the DRC’s mineral-rich Haut Katanga province.
For the moment though, Zambia holds the keys to the toll coffers for getting the Congo’s copper as well as its own to the nearest port.