Kafue UPND member of parliament Mirriam Chonya says motorists are suffering because toll fees are too high.
Contributing to the debate on the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development budget for 2018 in parliament yesterday, Chonya observed that people who lived in areas where there were toll gates were still crying about the high cost of toll fees.
“Government seems very excited about this new source of funding for various programmes in government, not just road maintenance. However, the people of Kafue, and I believe others where these toll gates are, are still crying about the high cost which they have to meet to pass through these gates. Where we copied this concept from, our colleagues were looking for a longer term funding modality of generating funds for road maintenance but in our case we seem to be in a hurry to get as much as we can from the citizens so that we are able to fund this [and that],” Chonya said.
She observed that the money which was meant for road maintenance and development was being channeled to other sectors.
“And I hear salaries last month were met partly from this toll gate money but that is just speculation Madam Speaker. In continuing on this, when the people of Kafue queried why some of this money is not going to meeting the township roads, we were told that the policy is that only roads on which the toll gates are mounted are supposed to be maintained. I would want to call for the reform of this policy if that is the case so that the people of Kafue can begin to see the benefits of passing through these toll gates at such a high cost so that part of that money can go towards maintaining their township roads. I heard the minister here talking about the completion of the L-400 project, Kafue was nowhere in that phase and now we are learning here that phase two has started and most of it has already been implemented and Kafue is not even a priority having not benefited from the first phase so I would really want to make this compassionate appeal, honorable Minister of Infrastructure Development, to hear the cry,” she said.
Chonya also asked government to prioritise construction of houses for teachers.
“We seem to be paying a lot of attention to putting up housing units especially for our men in uniform, that is good for them, they do a good job when you need them but my appeal is that we look at other professions which are equally in need of this infrastructure. Each time the Minister of Infrastructure comes to speak, he is grappling with how to deal with the housing infrastructure for teachers because the efforts in this area are not visible or they are not tangible. So what can the ministry do to help the ministers much more? I am aware that within the ministry, there was a policy that was passed to say when a new school is built, a housing stock of 20 would be given but the schools that are now under construction are fewer than the ones that we have from the past which do not have this accommodation. Therefore, there’s need to also pay attention to other people in the public service generally. This cannot be achieved overnight and I appreciate the efforts you are making to meet the private sector to help you with this. However, we must also be cautious of the kind of partners we are going to engage because if these become too expensive, it means those who are supposed to benefit will not afford,” said Chonya.