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Toll Gates Go Up On Zimbabwe Highways to Fund Improvements, Safety

Motorists on Zimbabwe's major highways suddenly faced new tolls along the road Tuesday as well as long delays and much confusion as the government introduced a revenue measure intended to fund improvements to the country's often deadly road system.

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from some new toll stations along the dangerously dilapidated Harare-Masvingo highway.

The introduction of tolls came on the heels of yet another multi-fatality crash, the latest involving a private vehicle and a bus operated by the state-run Zimbabwe United Passenger Co. Ltd. The collision Monday between Harare and Chinhoyi, to the north, claimed 11 lives.

Pointing to such tragedies and others in the recent past including bus accidents on the Harare-Masvingo road and in Mount Darwin in which 56 people died, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe welcomed the introduction of tolls to fund highway safety improvements.

In one high-profile case, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife Susan was killed in March when a truck veered out of its lane on the Masvingo road and sideswiped their vehicle.

Consumer Council Matabeleland Regional Officer Comfort Muchekeza said that despite the short-term chaos and higher cost, tolls over the long run will save Zimbabwean lives.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...