By: Ketemba Tjipepa / Joseph Sheefeni
The Road Fund Administration (RFA) has defended the proposal of introducing a tolling system to counter the growing funding gap the institution faces.
This comes after the company discussed the implementation of alternative revenue generation streams including toll gates during the company's five-year business plan stakeholders consultation.
Speaking at a press conference, RFA Chief Executive Officer Ali Ipinge, stated the Namibian Road User Charging System (RUCS) revenue is threatened by technological advancements from car manufacturers aimed at curbing carbon emission and reversing global warming and equally to remain relevant RFA is challenged to find solutions to the oncoming threat of diminishing revenue.
"As part of assessing on how to augment diminishing revenue from the fuel levy, management had to interrogate alternative ideas including tolling," noted Ipinge adding that RFA commissioned a feasibility study in Namibia three years ago and the study informed that the system can be sustainably introduced on the country's road network.
Ipinge added that many countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region have embraced the toll gate system. He stated that the consultative process is at government level, for an alternative revenue stream that is sustainable.
"Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique have all in the past 10 years introduced tolling to fund the maintenance of their roads. With the vehicle population that we have, it can be done," said Ipinge, who also noted that Namibia now has a vehicle population of over 400 000.
The RFA's annual revenue generation stands at N$2.5 billion a year, but its projects are expected to require N$4.3 billion per annum in the near future. Ipinge explained the shortfall in funding is expected to grow further, and they have thus instituted a process that includes gauging the public on the option of implementing a toll gate system for additional funding.
"We have gone to cabinet to seek policy support for this programme, and cabinet has given us approval to engage and consult road users and the general public to provide sufficient information and relevant details," he said.
The CEO also pointed out that they currently have five road charges through which they generate revenue, including fuel levies which accounts for nearly half. But the increase in electrical vehicle usage could mean less funds for the RFA, which could also translate to insufficient funding for the country's road network.