Tollgates are now part of daily life in Zimbabwe. For the first time, vehicle operators have to pay to use certain roads.

Authorities say the fees range from $1 for small cars to $5 for large trucks and the funds will be used to make roads safer and more efficient.

Crashes and other automobile accidents are frequent on Zimbabwe?s roads. Among the victims, earlier this year, was Susan Tsvangirai, the wife of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

It is too early to predict the impact of the measure, said Professor Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, who chairs a think tank based in Harare, the Zimbabwe Integrated Program.

Some people seem to have been taken by surprise by the introduction of tolls. There were signs informing the public about them in advance, he said, but ?I think people never got to know exactly when they [tollgates] would be introduced.?

Dzinotyiweyi dismissed suggestions that truck drivers will face a disproportionate financial burden since they use roads more often. ?Many people feel the conditions of the roads have worsened largely because of the usage of heavy trucks and buses and that these operators need to contribute towards maintenance of the roads,? he said.

The owners of small vehicles may be inconvenienced, he said, but he expressed optimism that Zimbabweans will accept the system.