Rights lawyers begin toll court challenge

HARARE - Government’s plan to increase toll-gate fees by up to 100 percent faces a stern legal challenge, with rights lawyers dragging the cash-strapped administration to the High Court arguing the hike is unconstitutional and unjustified.

Government last week increased toll fees by up to 100 percent in a move that is likely to have ripple effects on transport fares.

Light motor-vehicle toll fees went up by 100 percent to $2, while kombis and minibuses will fork out $3 up from $2. Buses will now pay $4 in tollgate fees up from $3. Heavy vehicles toll fees went up from $4 to $5.

It means, for instance, a motorist will have to fork out $16 for a drive  from Harare to Bulawayo and back, while a minibus will fork out $24 for the same journey.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), represented by Harare lawyer Selby Hwacha, is resisting the gazetted increase, a position that is also backed by motorists.

Obert Mpofu, the minister of Transport and Communication, who increased the tollgate fees, is cited as the first respondent, while the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) is the second respondent.

In an urgent High Court application filed yesterday, the rights lawyers asked the court to stop government because “the increase in the toll fees mentioned was not done in consultation with the applicant and the general motoring public.”

The lawyers argue that the increase in toll fees was a contravention of the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwean citizens and every other persons have a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, and impartial, both substantively and procedurally,” read the application.

Hwacha said there was no justification to the tollgate fee hike as money that is already being paid has done little to improve the country’s road infrastructure.

“The first respondent abused his discretion and power to increase toll tariffs,” the affidavit says.

“The principle behind the charging of toll fees is to allow road users to reasonably pay for the use and maintenance of roads. 

“Payment is not an end in itself.  Payment should therefore not be pursued to the prejudice of the road users.  The charging of exorbitant and punitive toll fees is clearly against public policy.  The first respondent seems to be punishing innocent citizens for owning cars.”

The rights lawyers said the increase in toll fees was also done in contravention of Section 3 of the Administrative Justice Act, (Chapter 10:28), in terms of which Mpofu was supposed to act lawfully, reasonably and in a fair manner.

The court must stop the intended government move as there is reasonable fear that Zinara will increase the tollgate fees beginning tomorrow, the ZLHR argued.

“Just as an illustration, a resident of Mazowe who drives to Harare for work on a daily basis will need under the current toll fee tariff a sum of $2 per day,” the lawyers argued. “This means that a sum of $60 will be for toll fees a month.  This amount translates to $720 (annually). 

The same driver is expected to pay vehicle licence fees and fuel his own car.”

Comments (11)

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 10 July 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 10 July 2014

ROAD NGADZIGADZIRWE PLZ DNT STEAL OUR MONIES KUKWIDZA HAKUNA SWEAT

jay jay - 10 July 2014

Thank you Rights Lawyers for standing up for us. It is high time arrogant leaders were told that the time of them doing as they please with our hard earned money to maintain their lavish lifestyles and sending their kids abroad for school at our expense is fast coming to an end.

Dr Know - 10 July 2014

Wonder if at all there are economists and advisors to these ministers. They are out of touch with reality.. hapasisina pekusvina.. Vanhu hatisisina cent oro kani.. Aaah Nhai imi mati tidiniko.. Mwari pindirai vana venyu vatambura mu Zimbabwe... Iye Orbet uyu hameno

Zvakwana - 10 July 2014

Please lets not milk the poor. who are really strugling to make ends meet. cut your salary Mr Minister and the rest of your team. as well as Zinara staff , your salaries are too much.

JS - 10 July 2014

hameno zvavo vane meno

zvenyika ganda - 11 July 2014

hameno zvavo vane meno

zvenyika ganda - 11 July 2014

Lets use our commom sense in this US$ ERROR to hike fees by 100% think twice??????

OM - 11 July 2014

Lets use our commom sense in this US$ ERROR to hike fees by 100% think twice??????

OM - 11 July 2014

Let's see, firstly there is still a road tax which should be used to build and maintain our road network. Now we have toll gates which supposedly do the same thing. Then the plot thickens by the toll fees going up!!!! In an economy that is struggling for cash flows and seems to be in reccess. Secondly, i would say toll gates are illegal, yes illegal, when the current road net work was initially planned and build most citizens were not even born that includes those of us born before independence . So why the need for tolls when the country has not extended the road network by much???? Give alternative routes which are not heavily tolled as freedom of movement is a basic human right. This increase will ripple into all other services and food sectors hence this an announcement of the rise in cost of living while in the USD era. Ko Madzishe ude munoti USd rinofanana ne Zim dollar here?

Lewanika - 12 July 2014

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