By Petronella Sibeene
The Road Fund Administration (RFA) yesterday re-implemented mass distance charges (MDCs), an initiative projected to generate N$100 million for the maintenance of the country’s road infrastructure across the country.
Heavy vehicle operators with a legally allowed maximum vehicular mass of above 3 500 kilogrammes from yesterday became liable to pay mass distance charges to the RFA for kilometres travelled within the country.
About N$1.2 billion is needed for the construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of the road network in Namibia.
According to a manager of the RFA Desmond Basson, N$600 million is needed for the maintenance of roads for this financial year while the RFA can only provide N$400 million.
“The Fund cannot satisfy the current need and every cent is valuable at the moment. Most roads are reaching the end of their lifespan, they need to be worked on. Every cent collected through the mass distance charges will be utilized for the road projects in Namibia,” said the Chief Executive Officer of the RFA Penda Kiiyala.
Namibia has to maintain a balance between the financing of existing roads and the burning need to construct new ones.
While most of the roads are nearing their life span, there exists a huge gap between the available financial resources and the actual required financing levels. Further, the past few years have witnessed an annual decline in the funds that are allocated towards the maintenance of the roads network.
The N$100 million to be collected through mass distance charges will complement other sources of revenue currently in place. These are the fuel levies, license and vehicle registration fees and cross-border charges, Basson told New Era.
While previous mass distance charges were based on advanced payments calculated on assumed travelling distances per annum, the new system is based on self-assessments for actual distances travelled within Namibia per annum.
Payment will be based on the vehicle type and the rates will range between N$2.50 and N$24.00 per 100 kilometres. This will apply to both local and foreign owners of heavy vehicles.
Mass distance charges registration forms are obtainable from the RFA or any registering authority such as NaTis. A logbook will be issued to the vehicle owner and it will have a serial number unique to every vehicle.
Kiiyala also cautioned that under no circumstances should cash be submitted with the assessment form.
Mass distance charges will ensure that heavy vehicle operators pay their fair share for the maintenance of Namibia’s road infrastructure, as road surface consumption increases more sharply with the increase in vehicle mass.
Failure to comply with the provisions, Kiiyala warned, would lead to serious consequences that would entail payment of a huge fine.
Last year June, the RFA introduced the collection of funds through this project but that caused an uproar resulting in some stakeholders taking legal action against the RFA.
The High Court almost three months after the introduction of the charges declared the imposition, promulgated by General Notice No. 126 of 2006 in the Government Gazette of Namibia No. 3640, to be invalid. The RFA had to refund its clients up to N$23.9 million.
Kiiyala in an earlier interview with New Era revealed that his company had in the past months refunded its clients about N$13 million.
“So far we have less than N$10 million to refund. We are making progress, actually most clients operating within have received their refunds. The remaining portion is for outsiders and through regional magazines we are advertising for them to get in touch with us,” Kiiyala said at the time.