BUS operators have praised Government’s decision to direct the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to revert to old fees and fines for traffic offences and services.
Chairperson Ishmael Kankara has told the Daily Nation that his association was happy that Government had heard its plea because maintaining the fees and fines would have had a huge impact on the cost of doing business in the transport sector.
Mr. Kankara said the bus operators were already paying too much for other services and that the increase would have suffocated them more adding that the commuters would also have felt the impact of such upward adjustments as the bus owners would have had no option but to hike the fares in order to meet the costs.
He noted that the intervention by Government had come at the right time when economic challenges had also taken a toll on the sector.
“We want to thank Government for coming to our aid because the proposed fees were just too high for the sector which is already paying so much in other taxes. Of course, this will provide a little bit of relief to us because we are already operating under very difficult conditions,” Mr. Kankara said.
He said the move would also reduce the levels of corruption as traffic officers would have taken advantage of the exorbitant fees to ask for bribes from drivers who would not manage to pay the full amounts of money for their offences.
“It is obvious that when fees go up corruption sets in as both parties – the perpetrators and the officers – would be lured to engage into corrupt activities for the driver to pay less than the needed amount and this means that the revenue that was supposed to go to Government coffers ends up in someone’s pocket.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kankara has asked Government to revise the presumption tax charged by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) as the tax in its current form was exploitative.
“This tax is very good because Government needs to collect revenue from us but there is need to revise it so that it does not exploit us. As things are, even if my bus is not working or it has a breakdown, I am still compelled to pay this tax to ZRA as long as my vehicle is registered with RTSA,” he said.
Cabinet this week reversed the recently announced increase in fines and fees for traffic offences and services and reverted to the old ones.
Chief Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili said Cabinet considered the concerns raised by the general public especially bus and taxi operators that the newly introduced fines and fees were too high and were making the operations of their businesses difficult.
Mr. Kambwili advised traffic officers to begin charging the old fees.
He said the Ministry of Justice would in due course issue a statutory instrument on reverting to old fines and fees.
Last month, RTSA announced an upward adjustment in fees for traffic offences and services. Those caught driving unlicensed motor vehicles were to pay K450 while those found with expired test certificates were to pay K450 fine, among other fines.