With new toll rates, gov’t hopes to attract private capital to develop roads

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President Akufo-Addo’s representative at the Ministry of Finance, Charles Adu-Boahen, has said has begun moves to restructure road toll fees in the 2021 budget.

The budget statement revealed that there will be a review of existing road tolls, which will be aligned with current market rates as part of the framework for promoting burden-sharing as the country seeks to transform the road and infrastructure sector in a COVID-19 era.

Even though some have described it as long overdue, the move attracted some hue and cry from a section of the public. The minority in parliament have questioned why a chunk of the increment seems to be directed at COVID-19 expenses and not to better the road infrastructure – but Mr. Adu-Boahen has come out to explain that their worries are covered.

Speaking at a virtual post-budget forum organised by PwC, Mr. Adu-Boahen said: “Another area that seems to have brought up a lot of noise is the toll rates. If I remember correctly, I don’t think the tolls have been reviewed since 2009; but more importantly, it is not about asking the drivers to pay more but about making tolls more market-related, so that we can attract private sector investment into the provision of road infrastructure.

“Given the size of our economy today, the number of people, the geographical area to cover, government alone cannot provide the road infrastructure that we need. There are some routes which can be commercially viable and profitable; and if we have tolls that are market-related, I believe we can attract private sector investment to provide us with some of the roads we need. And this would help support government’s efforts at putting these roads in place,” he said.

He revealed that with the tight government expenditure being run due to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, government is looking at enticing private sector investment to support expanding road networks across the country to bring some relief to citizens.

“For example, if you look at the Tema motorway, we are looking at using a Public Private Partnership to expand it: but to do that, we need to review the toll rate to attract the kind of private sector participation into it.

“Driving toward Prampram and Aflao – or even getting out of the Tema motorway roundabout, it takes hours; so, we are looking at a Public Private Partnership to fix that. This will be viable if the tolls charged are commercially viable and market-related, especially when it comes to commercial vehicles which ply them being able to help pay for their provision and maintenance.”

He added that for the economy to recover faster than is being anticipated, it should be a shared burden and everyone should contribute a little to support the recovery. He said lives and livelihoods have been the core of governance since the pandemic struck, but it has been costly and government needs support.

Charles Adu-Boahen, President’s representative at the Ministry of Finance

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