• The East African region has a fantastic opportunity to leapfrog many of the existing toll road operating models
• The Motorists Association of Kenya believes reintroducing toll booths would be tantamount to double taxation
Kenya needs to leverage on technology to benefit from the proposed road toll systems, according to a new study.
The KPMG benchmarking study titled 'Measuring the Efficiency of Today’s Tolling Operators' shows operators can be at the center of a new, quickly forming mobility platform, through seamless collections and where tolls are collected seamlessly and operational efficiency.
KPMG's head of head of transport & infrastructure,James Woodward said the East Africa region has a fantastic opportunity introduce world-class tolling experiences.
He said Kenya and Uganda which already have road tolling plans high on their agenda while Ethiopia's ongoing expansion of the existing toll road programme should ride on technology.
The report comes in the wake of a revelation by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) recommending that high-capacity vehicles like transit lorries pay Sh30 per kilometer to use the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit road in toll charges.
Low-capacity vehicles like saloon cars will pay Sh6 per kilometer on the 243km stretch, making Kenya’s highways among the most expensive to drive through in the world.
The Motorists Association of Kenya has however strongly opposed plans to resurrect the road toll system dubbing it as “backward and outmoded”.
“We condemn the obsession with KENHA to resurrect this dead idea every two years for over a decade now which has compromised the normal upgrading,” MAK executive officer Alex Lumwamu said in a statement.
KeNHA director-general Peter Mundinia said motorists will pay the same charges to use the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Westlands expressway that starts at Mlolongo and terminates in Westlands spanning 18.59 kilometres.
Lumwamu however argued reintroducing toll booths on Kenyan roads pose challenges for motorists who are already burdened with heavy tax on fuel and having to chip into the Road Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF).
“Reintroducing toll booths would break the camel’s back since this will be tantamount to double taxation,” he said.
RMLF was established in 1993 to cater for maintenance of roads and has been increased from Sh0.6 upon inception to Sh6 in 2016, which was hiked further to Sh18 last year.
For instance, during the 2018/19 financial year, the Kenya Roads Board (KRB) had planned for maintenance of 80,537km - half of the country’s total road network as per a report released in February.
In a report, the agency tasked with financing road maintenance said despite the fact that fuel levy collections increased by about 30 per cent following an increase of the levy rate from Sh12 to Sh18 per liter, money collected was still inadequate due to a backlog in road maintenance.
While it is unclear whether the proposed tolling will be electronic or manual, the report by KPMG shows the most efficient toll operators are focusing on automation of transaction processing and enhancing technological capabilities.
Another key area operators should focus on, according to the report, is revenue leakages.
“Deciding to prosecute violators — even just at home — would cost little financially and could return valuable revenues. But these decisions are often very politically charged and can be unpopular in jurisdictions with a culture of evading tolls,” KPMG International chairman for global infrastructure Stephen Beatty said.