Editorial: Re-introduction of the road tolls will serve our own interest 

The Daily Graphic reported yesterday that the government was taking steps to reintroduce road and bridge tolls to shore up domestic revenue. According to the state-owned newspaper, the reintroduction will also come with an upward adjustment in the tolls by an average of 88.5 per cent, including outliers of 400 per cent, the highest percentage increase, and 33.33 per cent, the lowest increment.

The paper further reported that the Ministry of Finance had made a proposal on the new rates to include in a new Legislative Instrument (LI) to amend the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2022, (Act 1080).

Under the amended law, cars previously paying 50Gp must pay GH¢1:00, whilst pick-ups, light duty trucks and mammy wagons will pay GH¢1.50, up from the previous GH¢1.

Heavy duty buses and light goods trucks will now move away from paying GH¢1.50 to GH¢2, while medium goods trucks (three axles) and heavy duty goods trucks (four axles) will now pay GH¢3, up from the GH¢2 they were paying before the collection of tolls on major highways and bridges was abolished.

Other proposed increments are, heavy goods trucks which have five axles or more will now pay GH¢3.50, up from GH¢2.50, whilst motorbikes will now pay 50Gp, up from 10Gp, with agricultural tractors, with or without trailers, paying GH¢1, up from 50Gp.

The Chronicle is happy that at long last the ministries of Finance and Roads and Highways have seen the wisdom in re-introducing the road toll. The toll, before its abolishment, was reportedly raking in GH¢78 million a year, but because of the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy) the government was about to introduce, an ill-informed decision was taken to abolish it.

Now that the government has failed to rake in the anticipated revenue from the E-Levy, it has decided to bring back the road toll. In our view, if the government had listened to constructive criticisms about the abolishment of the road toll, it would have avoided the current situation where it has to do another public education for the acceptance of the new tax.

Nevertheless, we fully support the re-introduction of the tax, because all over the world roads and bridges are tolled to raise revenue to maintain them. As a Third World country, where our expenditures far exceed the total revenue we collect in a given year, this is the best way to raise money to maintain the roads, and also construct new ones.

Even with the current proposed rate, it will still not be enough to maintain all our roads. As we indicated earlier, the old toll was fetching us roughly GH¢78 million a year. With the new rate, we are likely going to collect GH¢150 million annually.

According to the Ministry of Roads and Highways’ own figures released in 2021, “Surface dressed road cost $300,000 – $900,000 per kilometre (depending on the number of seals and base material). Asphalt overlay costs $200,000 – $250,000 per kilometre.  Interchanges cost                        $10,000,000 – $55,000,000 per kilometre, and reconstruction asphalt costs $1,200,000 -$1,400,000.

Looking at the current cedi-dollar volatility, the above figures might have already hit the roof. One can, therefore, imagine what a ‘mere’ GH¢150 million, which is expected to be generated from the new road tolls, can do for us when it comes to road construction.

The best thing to do in order to raise more funds from road tolls is to introduce a flat rate for all cars registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) as road toll. Unfortunately, the law does not allow that, because road tolls are usable taxes and a vehicle that does not use a tolled road cannot be forced to pay the tax.

The Chronicle is, therefore, proposing to the proponents of the new Legislative Instrument (LI) to amend the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2022, (Act 1080), to include the right to collect road tolls from all cars or vehicles, whether they use the tolled roads or not. This way, enough money will be raised to tackle, head on, the numerous challenges confronting the roads sector.

We shall return to this subject.


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