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Saturday, January 15, 2022

Toll Plazas in Zambia, Nine Years Later

Columns Toll Plazas in Zambia, Nine Years Later

By Aristide Bance

INTRODUCATION

Compliments of the season, good people. I hope you are well and starting 2022 on a good note and keeping safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As I begin this year with my first article, I refer to an article by Edwin M. Hatembo Junior that appeared in October on the 30th of 2013 titled, ‘Why Zambia needs Toll Roads.’ The article appeared in Lusaka Times before introducing the tolling system in Zambia. The article’s author perfectly and concisely outlined the need for toll roads in Zambia, the advantages and disadvantages which were outweighed by advantages, by the way, reasons for paying tolls, the benefits, and what tolls fees are used for.

Why Zambia needs Toll Roads

As a refresher, I begin off by simply stating what a toll road is for the sake of clarity. A toll road, also known as a turnpike or tollway, is a public or private road (almost always a controlled-access highway in the present day) for which a fee (or toll) is assessed for passage. It is a form of road pricing typically implemented to help recoup the costs of road construction and maintenance. In Zambia, 26 toll roads and 37 toll sites are listed.

I came for a holiday in December 2021, and it was lovely to see what Zambia has done in terms of toll plazas, and the road maintenance is evident on most roads. Since then, we have moved from toll drums and small booths to more enormous structures that I hope will improve with time.

A friend of mine from South Africa, upon seeing the toll plazas in Zambia, remarked by saying, “Wow, these toll plazas look like the very first ones we had in South Africa.”  It now gives me hope that the plazas will, with time, become better, and we should not relax and be content with their current state. It is also amazing to think that when tolling was introduced in Zambia, people resisted confirming many things in terms of Zambians being exposed to what is done in other countries like South Africa.

HAZARDS NEAR PLAZAS

Along the T1 Road, I passed through a small toll plaza called Kebby Musokotwane Toll Station from Southern province. The toll plaza is tiny, and the approaches road is small with only 2-ways on either side. What struck me most was that, after you pass it, you are met by villagers trading next to it. It is an excellent entrepreneurial spirit, and people should be commended. However, this is the T1 road, and it presents a hazard. As the mini-markets grow near the highway, it becomes busy, which is a hazard. People start constructing unsightly structures, and people cross the highway willy-nilly, and then we start having fatalities. People should have a sense of responsibility and care as they approach a highway.

 Kebby Musokotwane Toll Station
Kebby Musokotwane Toll Station

If this is not achieved, we will have villages and trading posts near busy highways near toll plazas. My thinking is to widen the approach or the depart sides of the plaza and barricade the sides so that people do not trade there. If that is left unchecked, I fear that we will have an unsightly fully-fledged market there.

A safe distance from the toll plaza, a modern structure for trading with ablution facilities could be erected. This will create a clean and safe environment for the traders. We are creating jobs…simple. We will have traders, maintenance cleaners, sweepers, fee-paying toilet attendants, etc. We solve a lot of problems, such as travelers having a relief station for food and answering the call of nature for themselves. It’s the simple things in life, I always say.

TOLL ROAD SIGNAGES

The signage in Zambia also leaves much to be desired. As I observed, along the toll roads in South Province, the kilometers are also not indicated. It would be nice to have those as one travels as it gives one a sense of distance. As you approached Mazabuka on small white reflective concrete pillars, I saw those distances indicated and this, for people with eye problems like myself presents a challenge.

Daniel Munkombwe Toll located between Choma after Harmony and Batoka
Daniel Munkombwe Toll located between Choma after Harmony and Batoka

The Mazabuka road only has those little signages because it is being worked on which by the way is a nice road. The signage could be better placed as big boards instead of ‘MBK 12 km.’ The writing of MBK is also not wise as this road is used by not only locals who may know or not know what MBK is but also by international travelers. It is always good to put proper signage and not work on assumptions that people know. It just makes things easier. The reasoning may be to save costs and not have people carry the small concrete signages, but I believe better signage could be adopted and standardized across Zambia as we are now being tolled.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, Zambia needs to better arrange the toll roads in terms of how the roads are made to avoid a situation where people trade near them and create unsightly structures. We do not want a problem where toll gates look like Mumbwa roads and pose people hazards. Let us not wait for a disaster to act. We have all the time in the world to correct this situation before it gets out of hand.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Am quiet disappointed with this article, you should have researched more and mentioned how much is made per month from these tolls and where the money goes and how it is spent, also you should have mentioned the pot holes which are still there despite people paying for tolls……..then you should have realised that the money gained is spent on something else ,,,,,,sorry but its a pathetic piece of writing you did mister.

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  2. Why not just name these toll gates after the place of location? GPS might even get easier mwe bantu koma… you are endangering those who may need quick location. Akuti uli kuti ati pa Kebby Plaza… ati ndiye kuti uko?

  3. It looks like the only worry the bourgoisie writer has are the hawkers magnetised by the road.. They need not be abhorred. Its the economy. Why doesnt he point out the fact that other nations with toll roads have alternative roads for those not having the cash to pay, South Africa being a nearby example. Even t the rail-line if running parrallel to the toll road is a cheaper alternative for both commutters and cargo. so the money being raised should be shunted to constructing railways. The Copperbelt used to have a railway network and at one time Kaunda introduced Railcars. Such progressive ventures have short legs in Zambia.

  4. Not convoluted; I like this author! Spot on, about poor signage, and hazards presented by markets mushrooming around Toll Stations. But then, our authorities seem incapable of controlling unlicensed trading activities anywhere. This is why Lusaka has become a huge market place! So unsightly!

    #plant a tree please!

  5. The principle in Road FInancing of PAY AS YOU go in developing Road and access infrastructure must continue Those vendors have the right business thinking moving to places of mass transit and communiting As a business person you look at the demographics and economics including needs of the people Perhaps what you need to do is build them side trading places like we see in Kabwe and ringfence but the PAYASGO tolls must continues in meeting the Funding GAPs in Infrastructure development of roads

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