Toll gate fees Zimbabwe: Trade impact of 100% increase through SADC North-South Corridor

Zimbabwe continues to be a curiosity, and the proverbial edge case delivered something that could make transiting across the North-South Corridor extremely difficult for the movement of goods and people. In the announcement that everyone was waiting for, and thankfully it came after the holidays, the new toll gate fees for the scant strips of…


Zimbabwe Tollgate fees, ZINARA

Zimbabwe continues to be a curiosity, and the proverbial edge case delivered something that could make transiting across the North-South Corridor extremely difficult for the movement of goods and people. In the announcement that everyone was waiting for, and thankfully it came after the holidays, the new toll gate fees for the scant strips of tarmac in Zimbabwe are here.

Zimbabwe Toll Gate Fees, ZINARA, SADC, North South Corridor, Logistics, Buses, Transport, 2024, Prices

The Ministry of Finance, through the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA), has seen fit to increase the tollgate fees by 100%, on what it has termed premium roads… For other or “standard” roads, it has only risen by 50% which is still pretty high but the assumption is that the Ministry of Finance’s revenue generation scheme for 2024 is trying to make up as much money as it can without completely shocking the system.

At this point what can be considered a shock in the Zimbabwean context is anyone’s guess

Minister for Finance, Prof Mthuli Ncube and the outgoing Reserve Bank Governor Dr Mangudya said they need to get money into the state coffers by any means necessary. Even if that means counterintuitively increasing the difficulty of operating for the general public and the minority formal businesses in the country.

Zimbabwe Toll Gate Fees, ZINARA, SADC, North South Corridor, Logistics, Buses, Transport, 2024, Prices

How ZINARA makes its money

The 100% increase in toll gate fees in Zimbabwe, on premium roads, means that a trip from Harare to Masvingo will now double in cost for the individual motorist. With the economic situation being as dire as it is in the country, the usual treks to the rural areas will now be considerably more expensive not just for the motorists but for those who will be taking intercity buses. Transit operators will, as it is common practice when regulations change and the price of operating goes up, push the additional cost onto commuters.

The roads picked are not a coincidence either, the now “premium” roads denote the greatest proportion of traffic in Zimbabwe where ZINARA makes nearly a third of its money according to the Authority’s 2021 report. They also “incidentally” connect the country with its neighbours but this is a point we will discuss later one

Zimbabwe Toll Gate Fees, ZINARA, SADC, North South Corridor, Logistics, Buses, Transport, 2024, Prices

That is echoed by the amount of traffic that those routes saw… Unfortunately, ZINARA’s 2022 report didn’t have the figures for traffic volumes but it did report the figures in its 2021 report which we can use as a baseline.

Zimbabwe Toll Gate Fees, ZINARA, SADC, North South Corridor, Logistics, Buses, Transport, 2024, Prices

All of this serves as context to the actual problem…

The North-South Corridor cost of the Zimbabwe leg in toll gate fees

Zimbabwe now presents an actual cost problem for motorists and transit haulage coming through the country through its very busy portion of the North-South Corridor. The plight of motorists is bad, however, for the haulage and bus industry, these fees are going to drive up the cost to the consumer. An example of the disparity is to look at the GP Plates that make the trip to Zimbabwe over the Holiday Period.

In the currency Gazetted rates that came into effect on the 1st of March 2023 and will be renewed on the 24th of February, if someone is going from Pretoria to Beitbridge they will be charged R313. This is not per toll, this is the whole way, and what makes matters worse is that when converted at the rate of the time of writing (US$1:R18.71) that total comes to US$16.73. 

The situation is stark for the average diasporan on their way back to Zimbabwe for the holidays, it’s even worse for the haulage industry. The total toll fee for a single gate in Zimbabwe is a third of the entire cost of operating from Pretoria to Beitbridge if the vehicle is using the Great North Road (US$20 vs the R1,179 which is about US$63)

Zimbabwe Toll Gate Fees, ZINARA, SADC, North South Corridor, Logistics, Buses, Transport, 2024, Prices
Total Cost of Main Toll Plaza’s South Africa

What this presents is a significant increase in operating expenses for haulage vehicles for Zimbabwe’s portion of the North-South Corridor. This complicates things immeasurably for operators seeking transit through Zimbabwe and those with goods terminating in the country. They are of course going to have to navigate the cost by using “regular or standard”roads to mitigate the cost but that might not be optimal for transit times and the cost of operating.

Zimbabwe Toll Gate Fees, ZINARA, SADC, North South Corridor, Logistics, Buses, Transport, 2024, Prices

This may force some to look at the Kazungula crossing as an alternative to crossing through Zimbabwe which even before the 100% increase was already expensive compared to old prices for the routes throughout South Africa’s road network… For those with goods terminating in Harare (and before), they may need to get inventive on the routes that they use to help reduce costs. What is to be expected is an increase in the cost of imported goods due to the Ministry of Finance’s new campaign to raise money at all costs…