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Traders around Pwalugu tollbooth welcome reintroduction of tolls; expect sales to pick up

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It would be recalled that hawkers at the Pwalugu tollbooth in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region explained that the closure of the tollbooth made life miserable for them as they are unable to make any significant sales at the booth.

The traders were hopeless that their economic situation would become any better. According to them, they had been depending on the congestion the collection of tolls created to earn a living and also support themselves, their families and the education of their children.

When A1 Radio visited the area weeks after its closure, Nkomode, a trader, said “We started here more than 15 years ago and it has helped us so much, now they say that we should stop working. It is a big challenge for us because the passengers cannot buy anything unless they have a private car. It has become so risky because of the way the cars have been running here.  Initially, they used to stop because of the tollbooth, now that the collection [of tolls] has stopped, the cars do not slow down and so our lives and [those of our] children are in danger,” he explained.

When the government’s intention to reintroduce road tolls made the news and reached the hawkers, they expressed excitement about the new development. 

The decision, they say, would help resurrect their businesses. When A1 Radio visited the site today, the hawkers expected the government to quickly reintroduce the tolls.

“As for today, the business has not been good because the cars are not stopping. Because of the closure of toll booths, men, women and children lost their jobs. It has not been easy. Women used to come and sell. Children used to also come to sell. Yes, we know that it is not good for children to sell but these are children who may not have anyone to take care of them so they have to take care of themselves. When they come here to struggle, they also make small amounts of money to be able to buy books. They way they closed it, it wasn’t good.”

Prior to the closure of the booths, the hawkers, according to Nkomode, could make anything between Ghc100 and Ghc200 per day. Now, some traders can go days without making any sales. 

The hawker who’s been dealing in vegetables and fruits called on the government to quicken its steps ahead of the reintroduction of the tolls. 

Meanwhile, the government has revised the schedules of the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2022, (Act 1080).

The amendments are in line with the government’s intention to restart collecting tolls on some roads pending the completion of the steps to identify the roads and highways to be affected by the reintroduction of the tolls.

To this end, the Ministry of Finance has commenced the procedures, necessary to determine the toll foundation rates while the Ministry of Roads and Highways considers them.

The Finance Ministry in a statement said, “we are by this letter sending the recommended rates for input by the Ministry of Roads and Highways to enable this Ministry to finalize the schedule of fees under the upcoming Legislative Instrument”.

This year, the government will resume the collection of road tolls on selected roads in the country.

The reinstatement of the road toll was one of the revenue-generating plans in the 2023 budget that Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, submitted to Parliament last November.

Payment of tolls on public roads ceased in November 2021 as part of policy measures announced by the government in the 2022 Budget a move that displaced several road toll collectors.

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, admitted that the suspension of road toll collection had hampered the government’s revenue generation.

He claims that the hasty decision made in anticipation of the passage of the E-levy has now become a major issue, with the government struggling to deal with it.

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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