I have never seen any serious country where they don’t toll their road – Roads Minister

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The conversation about reintroducing road toll has resurfaced after its operationalization was suspended in the year 2021.

There have been varied concerns and opinions on how unnecessary the decision made by government to suspend the road tolls have been and how this is resulting in the poor maintenance of road network in the country.

The country’s road network is in a state of severe disrepair, largely due to poor maintenance practices. Previously, the collection of road toll funded the maintenance of these roads.

However, the Ministry of Roads and Highways in 2021 directed the cessation of toll collection across the country, effective November 18, 2021.

The scrapping of toll collection which was to alleviate traffic congestion at toll booths and in anticipation of the e-levy was met with mixed reactions.

The e-levy has failed to generate the necessary funds since its passage; a development that has now led to the need for reintroduction of road toll.

During the presentation of the 2022 midyear budget review on July 25, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta announced the toll would be reintroduced on selected roads under a public-private partnership deal.

The flagbearer of the NPP, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, during a recent campaign tour of the Volta Region, proposed a reintroduction of the tolling system.

“Let us allow the private sector the room to construct the roads. Let’s therefore bring in road-based toll which will therefore give us the money to pay the private sector,” he suggested.

The assertion has been repeated by Roads and Highways Minister, Francis Asenso-Boakye in an assessment tour of the Accra-Kumasi Highway.

“Many countries, they use the toll that we collect from the proceeds from road toll to finance maintenance. So, at our ministry, we have started the process by engaging the various stakeholders to get their buy-in to make sure that we bring the road toll back. This is very important. I have never seen any serious country where they don’t toll their road,” he said.

But for the many who have been left jobless three years since the abolishing of the toll, life has been tough.

William a former worker at the tollbooth explains his ordeal.

“Life has become very difficult for me; I can hardly fend for myself and my children. We don’t have any problem with the road toll restoration, but we are asking the government to redeem its promise to pay us our locked-up salaries,” he appealed.

For Edward Duncan, a return of tolling could be the starting point of funds owed them since 2021.

“People have died, people have been ejected from their homes. Peoples’ children cannot go to school because they cannot afford school fees. None of us are against any form of modernization of toll collection in the country. However, what we are saying is that whatever form that the toll will come into the country shouldn’t deny Ghanaians the opportunity to work,” he stated.

For motorists, tolls must only return if funds will strictly be used for road projects. Most of them agreed with the reintroduction of the toll collection, but wanted some assurance that the proceeds will be used for the sole purpose of the road maintenance and infrastructure.

Ghana’s road network is crucial for socio-economic development, fostering connectivity and accessibility.

For citizens in different parts of the country, the deteriorating state of the roads hinders productivity and urgently requires intervention to prevent further disruption.

By Sarfoa Boahene