By Emmerson Njanjamangezi
THE Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) wants to switch from manual collection of toll fees to an electronic tolling collection (ETC) method that allows vehicles to pass through a toll gate without requiring any action or stopping by the driver.
In a notice in the Government Gazette yesterday, the road authority requested for expressions of interest for the supply, installation, configuration and commissioning of an ETC solution using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.
Zinara currently operates 31 toll gates on the major highways of Zimbabwe. The amount of traffic in recent years has surged due to the increasing number of vehicles. Zinara’s quest to switch to ETC comes on the back of increasing numbers of vehicles on the roads, resulting in problems such as long queues, delays, congestion and fuel wastage.
“The payment methods that are in operation at the toll plazas depend on the network communication systems operated by mobile network operators and the point-of-sale machines from banks and these payment methods have inherent delays and are not capable of coping with the increased traffic volumes.
“The current payment procedure can be slow, which often results in traffic jams at the toll plazas on busy highways. “The above challenges have created a huge negative implication on revenue collection and have created a nightmare for the motoring public,” read part of the notice.
To curtail the challenges, Zinara said the introduction of the ETC system at the tolling points would ease congestion and unnecessary delays.
“ECT will help to automate the collection of toll fees, ensure classification and toll collections are easily reconciled as well as reduce the manual intervention in toll collection,” further read the notice.
Typical methods for collecting tolls are manual collection, automatic toll collection via coin machines, and ETC. Manual toll collection is the simplest form in which a collector operating from a booth collects the money.
ETC is the most complex and the latest method for collecting tolls. Although it has been in use for more than 20 years, it will be new to Zimbabwe. ETC lanes improve the speed and efficiency of traffic flow and save drivers’ time.
An ETC system is capable of electronically charging a toll to an established customer account. The system can determine whether a passing car is registered, automatically charging those vehicles, and alert the local highway patrol about users that are not registered.