Kazungula toll fees labeled too high

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The Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD), Southern African Cross Border Traders (SACBTA), and the Zambia Chamber of Commerce Trade and Industry (ZACCI) have expressed concern over the proposed toll fees to be paid by vehicles using the newly commissioned Kazungula Bridge.

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The Zambia Revenue and Authority has been appointed and mandated by government to collect toll fees for the Kazungula bridge.

The proposed fees are: motorcycle/bike K150, passenger cars K350, Minibus 16 seater bus K450, 4×4 vans K450, light trucks K550, minibus (65 seats) K1,450, K1,700 with trailer, Rigid trucks 10 ton and above K1,450, horse with a semi trailer K1,900 and horse with semi trailer and dangler K2,250.

And in a statement, SACBTA, CTPD and ZACCI commended the Government of Zambia and Botswana on the construction of the bridge, but expressed concern that the proposed fees were high and would hinder trade.

“The Centre for Trade Policy and Development and Development (CTPD), Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association (SACBTA) and the Zambia Chamber of Commerce Trade and Industry (ZACCI) would like to commend the Government of Zambia and Botswana on the milestone scored in the construction of the Kazungula Bridge. Infrastructure development of that kind is critical to the realisation of ambitions under the Africa Continental Free Trade Initiative,” read the statement.

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“However, SACBTA, CTPD and ZACCI are greatly concerned with the proposed toll fees at Kazungula Bridge. We think the proposed fees will hinder trade and there is need to avoid application of exorbitant fees as these will become a deterrent to trade. The Private Sector and Civil Society understands that Government’s intentions may be around enhancing resource mobilisation. However, the proposed fees will result in increased supply chain expenses for goods and service traded through Kazungula.”

SACBTA, CTPD and ZACCI further stated the proposed fees would result in increased illegal trade and reduced trade flows through Kazungula bridge.

They therefore urged government to revise the fees in the interest of all Zambian cross border traders and transporters.

“In addition, the proposed fees will result in increased illegal trade or reduced trade flows/volumes through Kazungula bridge. We are concerned that with such new barriers, aspirations under the newly launched Africa Continental Free Trade Initiative may not be achieved. Our fear therefore is that traders will be faced with a choice to choose between the routes with high and low toll fees. In the interest of trade facilitation, we attest that the Kazungula bridge is a good opportunity to enhance trade between Zambia, Botswana and South Africa and our goal should be to ensure trade facilitation with less trade costs and the elimination of Non-tariff Barriers,” they stated.

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“It is, therefore, our position that government should revise the fees in the interest of all Zambian cross border traders and transporters. Jointly we implore government to inform the nation on the criteria they used to determine the communicated fees and how consultative the process conducted was. For us, whatever the criteria was used, the fees are high and not in favour of trade facilitation amongst all traders. It is on the foregoing that we propose the following recommendations: The government should facilitate exhaustive stakeholder engagements between non-state actors in order to arrive at reflective fees that encompass all players especially small-scale cross border traders and transporters. Government should defer the implementation of the proposed toll fees until consultations are duly done and national consensus is reached.”

But in an interview, Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Vincent Mwale said he wanted to first compare the toll fees with what people were paying on the pontoon, before making a comment.

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“Let me first look at the prices once again and do the comparisons with what people were paying on the pontoon then I will come back to you. Those people who were using the pontoon there, how much were they paying? I do the comparisons. I know the cost of maintaining that bridge is very high and all that. So, I will come back to you, just give me a bit of time. I just prepare that information,” said Mwale.

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