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Hon. Mwanakatwe attends to motorists at Katuba Toll Plaza

It has been my honour and rare privilege to undertake a conducted tour of the Katuba Toll Plaza, in Chisamba District. The Toll Plaza is one of the first conventional and modern toll plazas commissioned by his Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia in April, 2017.

The purpose of the tour was to acquaint my ministry with the operational status of the Katuba Toll Plaza in particular, and the overall implementation of the national road tolling programme in general, a home-grown solution to sustainable financing for road maintenance.

As you are aware, the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA), which has been entrusted with the responsibility of managing the road tolling programme falls under my Ministry and plays a fiduciary oversight on all road sector finances and ensures value for money.

The Agency operates as a commercial entity by bringing roads on the market place through the road tolling programme where road users pay for the use of tolled sections of the country’s highway.

Secondly, the general performance of the NRFA is anchored on its strategic plan 2017-2021 and is supportive of the objectives of the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP).

In addition to road tolling, the road sector revenues consist of direct government appropriated funding, fuel levy, other road user charges including road tax, weighbridge fees and fines and external funding through loans and grants.

In the year ended 31st December 2018, fuel levy collections and disbursements amounted to k709.8 million while other road user charges were at K482.1 million.

A total of K 908.59 million was collected in toll revenues from both in-land toll stations and ports of entry against a revenue target of K 845.6 million, representing a collection efficiency performance of 107%.

In 2018 revenue collected from inland toll stations accounted for 38% of total toll revenue collected at K344.2 million. This represented a 45% increase from what was collected in 2017.

Collections from ports of entry were K564.4million representing 62% of total toll revenues. Ports of entry collections increased by 31% compared to collections in 2017.

The overall releases by my ministry to the NRFA for road sector programmes was K7.04 billion, which was 81% of the 2018 road sector budget of K8.66 billion.

I wish to mention here and assure all road users that my ministry has trust and faith in the road tolling operating system and tolls revenue is ring-fenced for road maintenance, construction and rehabilitation.

All collected tolls go into a consolidated account for record purposes and remitted into the road fund account for onward disbursement. This cycle leaves an audit trail as tolls can be reconciled from source to expenditure.

My ministry is satisfied with this top level governance of road tolling as it ensures fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability.

Some of the control measures instilled by the NRFA in toll operations include the following:

  1. A central monitoring control centre has been established at the NRFA to provide real time operations oversight at toll stations and in all the booths;
  • The toll stations have been connected to a Wide Area Network (WAN) to facilitate efficient management of toll operations;
  • The NRFA introduced an electronic cashless payment system to minimize risks associated with cash handling;
  • The systems at the modern toll stations which include Katuba, Shimabala, Chongwe and Michael Chilufya Sata have been configured with automatic number plate recognition cameras to facilitate efficient transaction processing;
  • All the transactions in the system have an audit trail which enables verification of all transactions including receipting;
  • There is a continuous monitoring of the tolling system to ensure that any bottle necks are identified and addressed immediately.

Let me state here that all proceeds generated from road tolling and other revenue sources have been utilised for the intended purpose.

In 2018, 315 local and foreign road contractors and consultants were paid out of which 78% were local and 22% were foreign contractors as my ministry has placed significant emphasis in supporting our small and medium scale contractors through the provision of timely and adequate financing to build capacity and improve livelihoods at local levels.

Some of the major road projects financed in 2018 include the upgrading of the Pedicle Road, Kazungula Bridge, Kafue-Mazabuka road rehabilitation and all routine and periodic maintenance projects across the country.

A deliberate programme called the Road Tolling Maintenance Programme (RoToMaP) was initiated and key local authorities which include Lusaka, Kapiri-Mposhi, Ndola, Kitwe and Mansa were availed financing from the road tolling programme to work on identified roads in the localities which are linked to tolled roads.

As I conclude, I wish to urge the NRFA to strengthen its domestic revenue base by increasing the road tolling footprint across the country, enhancing internal systems and controls as my ministry will play an oversight role to ensure that integrity checks are conducted to the road tolling operating system and those mandated to operate the programme remain above board.

I thank you

Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe, MP

Minister of Finance