The Road Fund Administration (RFA) said that it targets making about N$750 million per annum from toll gates from about 23 road sections in Namibia.
This was revealed by RFA boss, Ali Ipinge, who said that they were going to see a massive increase in their revenue, by about a third of where it is now.
“That roughly translates to between N$500 million and N$750 million per annum, just by tolling about 23 sections of our roads,” said Ipinge.
He added that they were still committed to expanding their support, particularly for Windhoek and Walvis Bay, to establish a one-stop Natis Centre to improve customer service and expand the outreach to drivers and learners.
In 2020, the RFA conducted a feasibility study that concluded that charging tolls on some road sections in Namibia would be viable.
At the time, the RFA estimated that they would generate approximately N$3.9 billion over five years.
Now, RFA says the implementation of the tollgates is on the cards pending consultations and cabinet approval.
The Namibian Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) has not welcomed the move.
“It will be a serious burden for the motorists. Namibia is a small country and putting up toll gates on top of the levies that the government is charging already, it would be a burn over the shoulders of the motorist,” secretary general PendapalaNakathingo said.
He added that RFA should not only think about making money but should look at the living standards of people.
Moreover, Nakathingoemphasised that with the issue of road maintenance, Namibia is a country with a lot of natural resources and the government could make the money it needs from the resources through activities such as mining which can be used to sustain the roads.
“Namibia’s population is very small; we just need to manage our resources. I am not in a position of defending or standing together with the toll gates currently,” Nakathingo said.
He stated that people are already suffering and such decisions cannot be taken.
The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) said that the toll gate dream “shall be rejected the same as we rejected the 2 percent solidarity tax.”
They mentioned that the economic bane of consumers today can never allow people to pay more with volatile oil prices.
“The introduction of toll gates in Namibia will only overburden transport users. The PDM intensely rejects the planned introduction of toll gates in Namibia as it’s an exploitation of the people that are already struggling to make ends meet,” said the party’s secretary for information and publicity Hidipo Hamata.
He further expressed that “it is dumbfounding that while there is a strong push in South Africa for the scrapping of e-tolls, which will this year cost the South African government R23.7 billion to settle the debt of the South African National Road Agency (SANRAL) emanating from e-tolls, the Namibian government nevertheless wants to implement the same catastrophic system at the expense of road users”.
PDM urged Cabinet to abort the introduction of toll gates in Namibia.
In South Africa, the toll gate price in Grasmere is R22.50 and R74.50 at Vaal.
Meanwhile, Roads Authority of Namibia CEO Conrad Lutombi said that his office was aware of the study carried out by RFA to assess the viability of tolling gates in Namibia.
“We will welcome the intention because currently, the management of the road network in Namibia and funding of the road network is mostly dependent on the road users’ charges which consist of fuel levies. Currently, the funding of our road network is seriously constrained,” said Lutombi.
According to him, Namibian roads are currently funded at 60 percent while they were supposed to be 100 percent.
He further said that they were aware of some road sections that were viable options for tolling and some that are not viable.
He further urged road users to give their support when the project is implemented.
Economist Robert McGregor believes the principle behind toll roads is understandable, thus users of the infrastructure should pay for the maintenance cost of the roads.
This, he said, is the cost of erecting the infrastructure as well as the IT system and managing such progress.
“It needs to be staffed 24 hours. It needs to be considered, as this might make such projects unviable. However, there is a need for RFA to at least ensure that it does have sufficient revenue to not only maintain Namibia’s current roads but to expand the road infrastructure in the country to better standards,” he said.