Road transport is the most dominant means of transportation used by most Tanzanians. It is estimated that over 80 per cent of passengers use road and 90 percent of cargo is transported by road.
Also, the road network is considerably one of the most prized resource for any country. In Tanzania, the estimates of complete roads’ worth stands at Sh21 trillion equivalent to 16. 4 percent of country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Road transport plays a significant role in forging socio-economic development by enabling access to social services and engage fully in economic activities.
The existing road network provide people with assurance of; on time travel and transportation of cargo, and reduction of transportation cost that have also knock-on effect on trading cost.
Unlike road construction that occurs once, maintenance of the road is done on a routine basis to protect roads which have already been constructed from swift impairment and enable users make the most of it. Maintenance of such roads include but not limited to resurfacing of roads, unclogging underground drainage, slashing of roadside thickets, periodic and challenging areas maintenance.
Importance of road maintenance
For road network to account to the socio-economic development and benefit locals, routine road maintenance is uncompromising. This is due to the fact that, after roads having been constructed, they usually impair as far as improper use of roads and sometimes downpour are concerned. If a road is neither conserved nor maintained in due time will probably impair and require reconstruction that might incur three times the cost of maintenance.
It is estimated that road maintenance cost is usually six times higher if the road is not maintained for three years and if is not maintained for five years the cost upscale to eighteen times. Therefore, routine maintenance of the road is very important. The road users are engaged fully in road maintenance activities because they are directly affected with impaired roads. Among many effects are high car maintenance, increased transport cost and time as well as increase in accidents.
Road Fund and Road Fund Board
With significance of road maintenance for the drive of socio-economic development, Government established Road Fund and its Board as special organ to monitor roads maintenance of the country. Road Fund and its Board, were established under the Road and Fuel Toll Act CAP 220.
The roles of Road Fund Board According to the respective act, the Board has the following roles ton play:
• To ensure full collection and transfer of collected roads and fuel tolls to the Fund’s account;
• To disburse funds for road maintenance; and
• To monitor the use of the funds disbursed to road agencies for the purpose of the objects of the Fund.
Sources of revenue
Pursuant to the Road and Fuel Toll Act CAP 220, Road Fund Board registers three major sources of revenue which are; fuel levy, transit charges, overloading fees. Fuel levy is the major source of revenue of the Fund, which account to an estimate of 97 percent of all Fund’s revenue. For every 1 liter of petrol is levied Sh263. In addition, foreign cars are levied from 6 up to 16 US Dollars subject to type of the car. Other sources are parking and road reserve use fees. All the funds raised from the above sources are directly sent to the Road Fund for covering roads maintenance. 90 percent of all funds are allocated for road maintenance by Tanroads and Tarura. Also, the remaining 10 percent is rationed out for 2020 covering all activities related to new road construction projects by the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government.
As of now, the road network has a length of 170,471 kilometers including 34,490 kilometers of national roads and 135,981 kilometers of district roads. The overall national road maintenance is implemented by Tanzania Roads Agency (Tanroads) and district road maintenance is under Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (Tarura).
Regarding Government efforts, through Road Fund, there has been an upsurge of revenue collection of Road Fund. The collection of fuel levy saw an increase from Sh705, 091 million in the year 2015/16 to Sh747, 160.6 million in the year 2017/18, equivalent to 6 percent growth.
With Government having set amicable transportation business environment, traders from neighboring great lakes regions, are now attracted to use our roads and ports. A rapid increase of the unregistered cars that constantly use our roads, have also produced ripple effect on the revenues collected from foreign motor vehicle which has increased for 60 percent within three years spell. The increase of revenue has enabled Road Fund to cover a great deal of road infrastructure maintenance and so improve the effectiveness of the road network.
The major setback is limited capability of the fund to comply with road maintenance requirements. As of now the Road Fund is capable to sustain only 41 percent of the basic needs of the road maintenance across the country. Budget allocated for national road network sustained only for 44 percent and district road network took 35 percent of all funds. And this is due to removal of all rough roads which were desperate for development funds.
This challenge is brought by: The major road network funded by Road Fund is of gravel or sand standard which are susceptible to rain and so needs a routine maintenance. To address this vice, Government continues with the plans of turning all roads into tarmac or adopt alternative technology such as stone construction. The overload on the trucks contrary to the one which is legally accepted, cause roads impairment.
In an effort to control this impairment, the Board is following up on the grounds for an interminable overload trend on trucks, this is together with reviewing of fines intensity in relation to magnitude of law breaching acts. Also, through road camera, looking at the laws violation on the weighbridges regulations and respective measure are being taken. In addition, dismantle of road’s assets including road traffic signs.
This is a problem caused by regular road accidents as well as citizens who destroy road’s metal assets and sell them as scrapers. To counter this problem, Board has submitted recommendations to the government in order to officiate motor vehicle inspections. Also, it has advised other authoritative agencies of an idea not to use any metal related technologies to keep thieves away from road assets.
Strategies Anchored on diverse prevalent challenges, Board in line with other stakeholders execute the following strategies: Educate significant road users on the importance of conserving and protecting road infrastructure and effects of using sub-par fuel in motor vehicles. Coordinate researches on alternative and affordable technologies of road maintenance which will reduce cost and increase efficiency in the Road Fund expenditures.
Continue with follow up on quality of road maintenance across the regions. Board will continue advice Government on the means to increase revenue with time factor. Adopt state-of-art technologies in improving management of weigh-bridges operation so as to reduce number of the overloaded trucks and hence protect our roads. Officiate collection and disseminate information over the sources of road reserve user charges.
Road users are urged to comply with roads safety regulations so as to protect our roads. The major issue is to never over-load because trucks overload is one of the major cause of road impairment. We also urge road users to protect road infrastructure and its assets including roads signs and bridges tunnels. It is also advised not to fix a car on the road for it causes road impairment and probably car accidents.