By Mohammed Suleman
Concerns are being raised about the long vehicular traffic that motorists have to endure as a result of tollbooths found at the various outlets of Accra.
The situation, according to commuters, is putting a lot of strain on their health as well as pressure on their vehicles.
Government, as usual, is being called upon to remove all the tollbooths on the country’s highways, especially those closer to the capital city and find alternative ways of collecting the tolls so as to ease traffic congestion.
Similarly, there government is being urged to devise a means that would capture all motorists who ply the country’s roads and not necessarily those who use the tolled roads.
Mr Tay Awoosah, a development worker at the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), who is a regular user of the Kasoa- Accra Road, observed that there were drivers who have lived within Accra and its environs for years and never paid tolls unless they were travelling out of Accra. ?So the current system of tolling must be looked at again,? he insisted.
Mr Awoosah lamented the low productivity and the strain on human health as a result of the long hours of stay in traffic on daily bases at toll collection points on Accra- Kasoa Road, Accra-Nsawam Road, Accra-Aburi Road and the Accra-Tema Motorway.
He argued that the present system of toll collection discriminates unfairly; hence only a fraction of the population of drivers contributed to funds meant for road construction and maintenance in the country.
Mr Awoosah held the view that responsibility towards contributing to road maintenance must be shared equally.
He explained that he lived in Kasoa, which is approximately 35 kilometers from Accra, ?but the minimum time I use to get home is two hours as a result of the long queues at the toll booth. Because of the traffic situation, I have to wake up earlier than normal in order to get to work early and this also has serious health implications.?
To avert this nuisance, Mr Awoosah proposed the need for a central system to be created for payment of tolls to replace the tollbooth system.
He suggested that some small amount should be added to the fuel that are bought by road users and deducted at source to as road tolls.
He argued, ?You cannot run a vehicle without fuel, so when you buy the fuel, you know that some percentage of it goes into road construction and maintenance.?
He said such a measure would be adopted if it proves feasible and profitable, otherwise an alternative way of raising more revenue than the country was realising now should be explored. ?If we are able to put in place an alternative that can raise the same amount or even more, then we have to go with it and clear all the tollbooths to allow flow of traffic.?
In related development, Mr Awoosah called for a probe into the privatisation of the toll collection since it lacked transparency. According to him, the public was in the dark as to the kind of contract arrangement between the government and companies manning the tollbooths.
The Road and Bridge tolls, which used to generate only 2% of the total Road Fund revenue, now constitute about 17% of the total revenue. In spite of the substantial leap, experts say there is a wide funding gap for the effective maintenance of the country’s roads.