Nonsikelelo Moyo Victoria Falls Reporter
EMERGED Railways Properties Pvt Ltd says it has started collecting toll fees at the Victoria Falls-Zambia Bridge as part of measures to ensure that the bridge sustains itself.
Toll fee collection began last month with haulage trucks paying $30, buses $7, minibuses $5 and heavy vehicles $10. ERP joint company secretary Misheck Matanhire said earnings from tourism and adventure were no longer enough to maintain the bridge, hence the toll fess.
“Over the years, the Emerged Railway Properties Pvt Ltd has been utilising earnings from tourism and adventure activities on the bridge as well as from other properties to maintain the bridge. These are, however, now totally insufficient hence the need for the bridge to now sustain itself through tolling,” said Mr Matanhire.
He said an assessment done by Danish Engineering Consultants in 2005 revealed that refurbishment and continued maintenance of the bridge may give the bridge another 100 year lease of life.
“Emerged Railway Properties, which owns the Victoria Falls Bridge, among other assets, is an interstate company owned by Zambia Railways Ltd and National Railways of Zimbabwe in equal shareholding. It is responsible for the Victoria Falls Bridge including its refurbishment and maintenance.
When the bridge attained its 100 years design life, an assessment to determine its structural integrity and remaining life was carried in out in 2005 by Danish engineering consultants, who won an international tender for the assignment.
The assessment concluded that, with certain refurbishment works and continuation of the current maintenance regime, the bridge could be given another 100 year lease of life.
“The ERP has already carried out some of the recommended minor works but requires funding for the rest of the major works as well as the upkeep of the bridge,” he said.
Mr Matanhire said at the moment toll fees were being collected at the Zambian border post by Road Transport Safety Agency.
“It is anticipated that once all logistical arrangements are completed, vehicles crossing from the Zimbabwean side will pay in Zimbabwe,” he added.