Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe says government has raised K2.2 billion from toll gates since 2013.

In a speech read on her behalf by Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba during the Africa Road Maintenance Funds Association (ARMFA) in Lusaka, Tuesday, Mwanakatwe said the road tolling programme had been “the most successful programme” government has implemented in years.

She added that the money raised had since been used to finance major road projects across the country.

“Having picked vital lessons using this platform, we embarked on the national road tolling programme whose operations you are going to learn in detail through presentations and site visits. I am happy to announce that road tolling is one of the most successful programmes implemented by my government through the NRFA [National Road Fund Agency] with well-established internal systems and controls, which gives stakeholders confidence that tolls collected are well-accounted for and utilized for road maintenance, construction and rehabilitation in line with the Tolls Act number 14 of 2011. Road tolling in Zambia is still in its infancy but from the time the programme commenced in 2013 to-date a total of K2.2 billion or US $220 million has been raised from which we have financed major road projects, including the ongoing construction of the Kazungula Bridge at the border between Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Once completed, the Kazungula Bridge would facilitate regional trade through improved efficiency for transit and reduction on the prolonged period of time that local and international freight would have to spend one side of the border,” Mwanakatwe told delegates gathered at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre (MICC).

“Your presence at this workshop is a reflection of the unity of purpose and a realization that roads are very important in the social and economic integration of the region and the wider African continent. Against this background, I strongly urge this workshop to bring out ideas and best practices that can be developed into strategies for innovative resource mobilization for development and maintenance of a robust road infrastructure, thus, moving away from individual country approaches to creating synergies under this platform to support regional integration through road infrastructure development and subsequently connect the whole of the continent.”

She commended the NRFA for providing the necessary checks and balances, which she observed resulted in savings of over K77 million over recent years.

“We are also leveraging on the tolls collected to raise financing. In this, Ministry of Finance, through NRFA, raised a total or K2.12 billion or US $212 million from the pension fund (NAPSA) for financing of rehabilitation and upgrading the trade corridor linking two major mining provinces; the Copperbelt and North-Western provinces, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola to the rest of Zambia. This public to public investment facilitates a win-win solution as it provides a cost-effective financing mechanism and has allowed accelerated progress on the works on the corridor, while at the same time guaranteeing the return on the investment for the pension fund. In this vein, I wish to pay tribute to the National Road Fund Agency for providing the necessary checks and balances which resulted in savings of over K77 million on US $7.7 million from 201 1 to-date through the internal control systems,” Mwanakatwe added.

At the same workshop, NRFA chief executive officer engineer Wallace Mumba called for cross-border collaboration with other African road fund agencies to interlink the continent.

“As you may be aware road funds in Africa were established under the auspices of the Road Management Initiative (RMI), which was spearheaded by the World Bank in the early 1990s with the sole mandate of securing and effective management of finances for road maintenance. Currently, the Africa Road Maintenance Funds Association (ARMFA) has a membership of 33 countries across the continent. From the time of establishment, road funds have played a critical role in supporting road infrastructure development and maintenance across Africa. This includes the responsibility of resource mobilization through activities such as tolling, a flagship of Zambia’s sustainable road maintenance programme,” said engineer Mumba.