A proposed new bill to collect extra revenue has been pushed to parliament. The regulation by the Public Finance Management seeks to establish the National Roads Toll Fund. The regulations, which will establish under the National Roads Toll Fund, seek to implement the Public Roads Toll Act, Cap 407, which guides the imposition of toll fees on major national roads. The law will empower the Transport Cabinet Secretary to declare any road or a portion, including a bridge or tunnel on a public road, as a toll road. The reintroduction of the user fees will have motorists pay tolls on both existing and new roads, it will also affect roads, bridges and tunnels. Some of the major roads targeted include; Nairobi- Nakuru highway, jogoo road, Thika road amongst other roads.
The Motorist Association of Kenya had this response to the proposed bill, “Motorists Association of Kenya strongly opposes the proposed Toll road re-introduction into Kenyan major roads. Since the scrapping off of the paid roads in the 1980s, Motorists have been key taxpayers to the treasury contributing to a huge share of the country’s revenue. Motorists have ironically continued to suffer drastic taxations and we are sad and angry with MPs for backing the return of toll fees on roads, bridges which was proscribed in 1990s.The Toll Roads were replaced by Road Levy charged on fuel upfront before offloading at Kipevu storage. Re-introduction of the Toll will be double taxation to heavily burdened vehicle owners. It is ultra vires, illegal, unconstitutional and far-fetched for The National Assembly’s Committee on Delegated Legislation to purport to approve the Public Finance Management (National Road Toll Fund) Regulations 2021 and crude to urge MPs to pass such a travesty into Law.”
In the push for the approval of the bill, The Treasury stated that the move will free up more than Sh162 billion for the building of the Nairobi – Mau Summit road.“The establishment of National Roads Toll Fund…will facilitate the mobilization, off-balance sheet, of over Sh162 billion in road development funds, and the operation and maintenance of the Nairobi to Mau Summit Highway as a Public-Private Partnership toll road for 30 years, in pristine condition, and a return to the public of an asset with residual economic life in terms of the contracted obligations under the PPP agreement for the project,” Treasury CAS Nelson Gaichuhie explained.
The question of sufficient public participation was raised the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK), “The said regulations fatally fail to meet the threshold of public participation as envisaged under article 10 of the constitution. Road tolls are discriminatory, especially where options do not exist,” Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro said.
The Motorist Association of Kenya statement further read, “The outfit-seeking National Roads Toll Fund is against the law as it will give Transport Cabinet Secretary unfettered powers to declare any road or a portion, including a bridge or tunnel on a public road, as a toll road. Toll Roads should only be on privately acquired land and built by a private entities. Existing public Roads and reserves belong to the public and must not be turned into profit making enterprises in the guise for some well healed business profiteers masquerading as saviours and hiding in exploitative PPPs schemes.”
Will the bill help the common man or are we creating other sources for corruption?