Mozambique is set to build four tollgates on the 70 kilometer Maputo Ring Road next year, and will start operating in the second half of the year, according to Angelo Lichanga, chairperson of Revimo, the public company that operates the road, cited in Tuesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.
Motorists were always supposed to pay tolls to use the Ring Road, but vehicles have been driving along it since 2017 without paying a penny. The failure to collect tolls is costing the Mozambican state, which, in the absence of tolls, must pay for the upkeep of the road, millions of dollars a year.
Speaking in Matola, at the First Maputo Provincial Roads Council, Lichanga said building work has already begun on two of the tollgates, at Kumbeza and Matola-Gare, and next Saturday work will start on the gates at Costa do Sol, on the Maputo beach front, and at Zintava, in Marracuene district.
A fifth tollgate will be at the tourist resort of Macaneta, also in Marracuene. This is currently operating from improvised premises.
Lichanga said the decision on how much motorists will have to pay at each toll gate has not yet been taken. The Ring Road cost 315 million dollars, and of that sum 300 million dollars is a loan from China.
Revimo also operates the suspension bridge across the Bay of Maputo, and the roads connecting the southern end of the bridge to the South African province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Toll gates are already fully functional on the bridge and the road to the South African border.
For many years the government has spoken of enforcing a “user pays” approach to road maintenance – but, until the suspension bridge was completed, in 2019, the only major toad with toll gates was the Maputo-South Africa motorway.
In 1997, this road was leased to the South African company Trans African Concessions (TRAC) for 30 years. TRAC ensured the construction and maintenance of the motorway and collects tolls from motorists at two toll gates.
Although TRAC has kept the motorway operating without requiring funds from the Mozambican state budget, this model was not followed anywhere else in the country. Almost the entire Mozambican road network is run by the State, through the National Roads Administration (ANE).
Since the state does not have the funds to pay for the regular maintenance needed, the roads deteriorate, and every now and then the government obtains loans from the World Bank, the European Union, or some other sympathetic agency, to rehabilitate the roads.
For decades the State has effectively been subsidising the companies that own heavy trucks (which cause most of the damage to the roads), and the rich individuals who own cars.
Repeatedly the government talks about leasing out stretches of the main north-south highway (EN1) to private operators, who will collect tolls. But the power of the motoring lobby is such that this has not yet happened.
Source: Club of Mozambique