Road Transport and Safety Agency chief executive officer Zindaba Soko says RTSA is finalising bidding processes for land on which it intends to construct fitness examination centres of vehicles in all 10 provinces of the country.

And Soko says the agency is struggling with a critical shortage of human resource, as the current staff component at RTSA is not proportionate in ratio with vehicles available in the country.

Explaining why Zambian tax payers especially motorists had been facing a lot of difficulties in making payments such as Road Tax, Soko admitted the agency’s failure to make things easier for its clients but attributed the problem the infrastructure challenges that the agency was facing.

“As RTSA, in our strategic plan which runs from 2016 to 2018, there are a couple of challenges that we are faced with, but what we are going into and what we are implementing is the issues, first of all, to do with infrastructure. You will agree with me that the infrastructure that we currently have does not match with current vehicles’ condition, that’s why we put that in our plan. Now, for Lusaka, yes we only have Mimosa and what has happened with Mimosa is that we bought part of it so that we could have two centres right there in Mimosa. Then we have a plot in Silverest which they are just finalising with the slabbing work. What we intend to do for the time being as we are building up Mimosa, we will have heavy duty vehicles going to Mimosa and then we will have the lighter category of vehicles going to Silverest as a way of decentralising,” Soko explained.

“We are also finalising the bidding of land on the Kabwe road where we will have another centre and also another one along Mumbwa road as a way of decongesting Mimosa. There is also a challenge even within the problem of congestion which is that motorists have not been able to do their fitness checks in advance and that has been a challenge because everybody then will do it on the deadline, thereby getting us as RTSA very overwhelmed. But also suffice to say that there is a project that will be running, the Intelligence Facility project which is a concession. With that concession, there are 30 more vehicle inspection centres that will be doted round the country for purposes of checking for road worthiness.”

He explained that the traffic at Mimosa would be worse, but the agency has allowed vehicle owners with more than five car to apply to RTSA and have their cars inspected at their location, without driving them to Mimosa.

Soko added that the agency had done its best to create various pay points for Road Tax.

“As we speak now, we have outsourced partners, which is ZSIC and Zampost, who are selling Road Tax for us but this is just an interim measure for us to be able to finish our infrastructure development and be able to sustain and provide the best service delivery. You must also be aware that in all the 10 provinces, there are contracts that we have done and we are just finalising the payments where we are putting up 10 offices because some of the offices that we have are rented and we want to have our own infrastructure to be able to arrest the problem. As I speak now, the completion date for the Luanshya office is March and the contractor for the Mufulira office has already mobilised and in a period of one year, that office should be completed,” he said.

Soko also explained that RTSA was in talks with the Ministry of Finance to improve human resource.

“We are also faced with issues to do with human resource and so we are in discussions with the Ministry of Finance to try and see how we can increase the staff component for RTSA so that we have a proportionate number of officers to the ratio of vehicles so that service delivery is faster. Of course, the way payment of tax is being done right now appears like punishment but as RTSA, we are not just watching the situation with our arms folded, we are actually doing something 24/7 until we can be able to see that we have contained the whole scenario because good service delivery is something that is part of our main objectives in our strategic plan. Meaning that even issues to do with tax payment, renewal of license will be done electronically. As we speak now we are working on the website architecture to ensure that our customers are able to serve themselves from where they are,” explained Soko.

“So going forward, yes I think this has been a problem but this problem is not permanent and we are putting in all our efforts and are working to have a proper way of delivering this service. Then take note that also there is a grace period that we have given just to give time to motorists to be able to put their documents together and the date is 15th January which is a Sunday so this means that by 13th people should have finalized their documents. But you see, from our observation as RTSA, I think there is a rushing that motorists do on deadlines which is deliberate because you can find those services at any time. So with the current challenges we have, I just urge motorists to be able to do things in advance instead of rushing on the actual deadline to do it. But what I should also promise the general public is that going forward, the next road tax cycle shouldn’t have these problems because we are working on this issue and definitely we will have the type of service that people will be happy with.”