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10.02.2010 General News

Gidisu: Road toll rates would not be reduced but...

By GNA
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Gidisu: Road toll rates would not be reduced but...

February 09, 2010
Accra, Feb. 9, GNA - Mr Joe Gidisu, the Minister of Roads and Highways, on Tuesday said there would not be a reduction in the road and bridge tools, but certain packages were being put in place to massage the discomfort currently being experienced by mostly commercial vehicles which plied such routes.

Mr Gidisu, who took his turn at the Ministry of Information instituted Meet-the-Press Series in Accra, to address issues bordering on his Ministry's performance, policies and programme said the Ministry was holding consultations with transport operators, especially commercial vehicle drivers and owners.

He said this was to ensure appropriate toll regimes for vehicles which crossed the tool booths about four times a day.

The Minister said the road sector was faced with numerous challenges that had constrained the achievement of its targets especially with routine and periodic maintenance and rehabilitation of existing roads and bridges.

He mentioned major factors including the over-commitment of the road infrastructure budget leading to delayed payments to road contractors for works done, a situation which had prevented the road agencies from awarding new routine and periodic maintenance projects such as pothole patching, spot improvement, re-gravelling, resealing, ditch cleaning and grass cutting.

Mr Gidisu also said the Road Fund Management Board had not been able to secure regular and smaller increment in levies, tolls and fees to correspond with the rising cost of road maintenance and it was indebted to contractors to the tune of about GH¢120 million apart from the GH¢160 million arrears recently released by government for projects executed under the consolidated fund.

He explained that the objective of the recent increases in the roads and bridge tolls was to mobilise adequate resources to undertake the routine and periodic maintenances as well as rehabilitation of roads to ensure safety, save time, money and also protect lives.

The Minister said it was estimated that incomes from the Road and Bridge tolls would increase from GH¢2.9 million to GH¢19.5 million.

Mr Gidisu said the National Road Fund currently provided an average of about GH¢110 million which was woefully inadequate to meet the maintenance needs of the sector.

He attributed this to the low level of bridges and road toll rates and the non-increment in the fuel levy since 2005.

However, the Minister indicated that the periodic and routine maintenance as well as the rehabilitation of roads and bridges were important in the protection of the huge investments made in the sector.

The revenue sources of the Fund are fuel levy on petrol, diesel and refined fuel oil, bridge and road tolls, vehicle and licence inspection fees as well as international transit fees collected from foreign vehicles entering the country.

"While the fuel levy contributed 94 per cent of the revenue, the road and bridge tools contributed only 1.8 per cent," he said.

Mr Gidisu explained that a number of consultations were made earlier with stakeholders through regional forums organised by the Road Fund Management Board out of which proposals were submitted to Cabinet for consideration and its subsequently approval.

He said the Ministry had, however, learnt from its mistakes of inadequate mass education as far as the increases were concerned and appealed to the public and vehicles owners to compromise with the situation in order to mobilise more resources to ensure quality road infrastructure and eliminate losses.

GNA

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