KAFUE Member of Parliament Mirriam Chinyama has appealed to the Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development Ronald Chitotela to reconsider the toll gate fee for Kafue residents at the upcoming Shimabala tollgate.
Ms. Chinyama has made the appeal in a letter addressed to the minister.
In a letter addressed to Mr Chitotela dated 16 November, 2016, Ms Chinyama charged that the tollgate fee of K40 was too high for people living around Shimabala, with the increase of fuel prices.
Government recently announced the revised toll gates fees with an increment of over 100 percent effective January 1, 2017, and Mr. Chitotela signed the Statutory Instrument that replaces SI 73 in order to legally bring into effect the revised fees.
Ms. Chinyama explained that a significant number of Kafue residents commute to Lusaka on a daily basis for work and that the increase in toll gate fees would become a strain on their disposable income.
“For a motorist who spends a minimum of K100 per day on fuel, plus K40 toll gate fee to and from Lusaka, will part away with at least K3,500 per month. From an average net income of K4,500 earned by most workers, it leaves them with very little to meet other family needs.
“Similarly, the public transport users are feeling the impact of high fuel prices because bus fares have astronomically risen to K20 between Lusaka and Kafue, with the high likelihood of another increase once the toll gate fee comes into effect,” Ms. Chinyama said.
She lamented that many people were now considering the option of relocating to Lusaka because the essence of cheaper accommodation in Kafue had been defeated on account of high commuter costs.
Ms. Chinyama feared that the increase in toll gate fees would affect the economy of Kafue which was already in a depressed state arising from the reduced income in circulation.
“As you may be aware, Kafue is economically a ghost town following the closure of most of its industries. Kafue lacks tertiary education facilities and a number of students commute to Lusaka for education purposes; the exorbitant commuter fares will hinder access to education,” she said.
She said setting up of a toll gate in Shimabala was perceived to be an additional tax by the residents of Kafue, and therefore a disadvantage contrary to the anticipated benefits of declaring Kafue an iron and steel economic multi-facility zone as well as the plans to make it a spill-over City of Lusaka.