Former ZANASU Vice President Prince Ndoyi has called on citizens in the country to block the increment of toll gates fees by 100% effective January 2017.
Mr Ndoyi said as opposed to hiking the prices government should instead reduce the prices because as it is they are making colossal sums of money from the current toll gates.He said government should not make National Road Fund a cash cow for politicians in power.
Below is the full statement
As young people we want to add our voice on the immoral toll gate fee hikes. We want to register our protest against the proposed 100% fee hikes at toll gates effective next year. We are surprised that the PF government seems to be in a quagmire of disarray and lacks consistency on a number of issues, owing to the contradiction between the aspirations espoused in the budget and the policy being pursued by the ministry in charge of toll gates.
We are aware that the hikes will result in transport fares going up, and so every other service and product has to go up EXCEPT THE SALARIES.People are being skinned to the bone. Transport operators will be forced to increase inter-city route fares due to this shock increase in toll gate fees.
It’s immoral to hurt the Zambians further even when they are tightening their belts.
We demand a downward adjustment instead because the roads are making colossal sums of money with just the three toll gates along the Lusaka-Kitwe route. Just at Chisamba check point were we conducted a research and discovered that at least 9000 vehicles pass through that check point everyday.Now for argument purposes do your maths of how much these guys collect in a day.It’s too much therefore why the increase and how did they arrive at the current figures and why 100% hike?
These monies the PF government wants to be in a hurry to collect from poor Zambians will soon start landing them in problems.Where will they take all those monies.In just a day they make millions.We do not want the hard working Zambians to be used to contribute to by-elections like they did through ZESCO which has been a cash cow for politicians in government. It’s immoral to hurt the Zambians further even when they are tightening their belts.
We say so owing to a Budget Speech that seeks to build and advance people’s power and respond to the people’s aspirations, reaffirm government’s commitment to place the people first, advancing people’s power. To this end, we appeal to government to remain committed to developing an inclusive economy that works for all.
increasing toll gate fees is one particular example of policy inconsistency
The strong initiatives outlined in the budget seemed to increase efficiencies and decrease the cost of doing business, and increasing toll gate fees is one particular example of policy inconsistency. How then does increasing the costs of doing business by 100% become the creation of a conducive environment for more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods, education and health, service delivery and rural development, in any pragmatic sense.
We therefore call upon government to reverse the hikes, to avoid unnecessary opposition from the general citizenry. We urge all Zambians to refuse these 100% hikes. We implore workers to be organized as we strongly block this unfair hike. Our roads are a public asset already paid for through taxation and the fuel levy, and motorists should not therefore have to pay again extortionate prices to drive on these public highways. We call upon Human Rights NGOs and LAZ to mount a legal challenge on the validity of the government’s decision to arbitrarily hike road toll fees by filing an application in the High Court seeking to interdict the NFRA from administering the new toll gate charges, they must be declared null and void.
We strongly feel, this proposed 100% hike is untimely and being presented in the midst of a sluggish economic climate and pressing fiscal challenges. It is clearly not aimed at rebuilding and re-igniting dynamic, responsive and inclusive economic growth, while enhancing spending.
The proposed road-use toll fee hikes, will place an unquestionable hardship on the already suffering masses, already struggling to recover from over 50% hike in petrol prices since January 2016, to which there is a current question on how the accrued moneys are being used or rather misused.We warn that this is may result in strong public rejection and protests as it directly affects everyone. We condemn the proposed toll gates fees hike. There is absolutely no justification for such a hike at a time poor Zambians are struggling to make ends meet.
Instead of increasing toll fees by 100 percent for the ordinary Zambian, the PF government should first deal with corruption which has destroyed the economy. The lack of development of our roads and over pricing on road contracts has been caused by corruption.
We strongly condemn such a move and we stand with the people and demand consultation, transparency and accountability on how public affairs are run and roads are a public affair. Government must not punish the poor by over burdening them with over priced goods and services.
We appeal to government to desist from the temptation to engage in such excessive risky behaviour because of moral hazards. This is a classical example of a dialogue of the deaf. Many sectors of the business community have warned against such hikes because they injure economic growth and activity if implemented through out the country and mainly at the border posts.It has a negative impact on the cost of doing business in Zambia as we all know Zambia has the most monotonous business registration system which favour foreign business houses as compared to local ones. Our protest will continue as we want the government to do justice regarding the fee hike.
In conclusion, we have protested strongly against the toll hikes, because we think they are immoral judging by a lack of justification. It is no news that our country’s government is rapaciously transferring the wealth, assets and livelihood of the entire nation over to a few government conspirators.
These seem to be happening so quick in recent days, it’s literally pouring down like a tropical rain storm as evidenced by the statement by the President over corruption. All essentials have become targets for exploitation – cars, road use, power, cement, even water. Dr Kenneth Kaunda once put it, “One of the reasons why peaceful protesting arguments are a valuable way of fighting unjust systems is because they make a direct appeal to the human instincts of those in power and it is their conscience, which is the real weapon against injustice. In the name of common decency, humanity and common sense, surely the poor families should be shown some compassion for morality and decency sake.
We dread to think how much all this will cost the poor families. Government must not be so blatantly uncaring, stubborn and unbending . We call upon the government to make the right decisions, because we see these harsh road tolls fee hikes as a “modernized privatization” of the nation’s road network.
GOD BLESS OUR GREAT NATION ZAMBIA!
By Prince Ndoyi