Is toll squeezing money out of your pocket?
Is toll squeezing money out of your pocket?
A toll road is a public or private roadway on which a fee is collected for passage. It is a form of road pricing typically implemented to help cover the cost of road construction and maintenance, which amounts to a form of taxation. Any vehicle passing through toll roads have to pay the implemented charges. This money is collected at toll house or toll booths.
The question here is -What are the benefits derived from it? Toll is basically collected to cover the cost of road and for its future maintenance. Agreed. As a citizen of India we have to be responsible and pay all the taxes. But is it really worth paying this tax? For instance crores of money is collected from Mumbai daily on the name of toll. A common man is forced to share his hard earned money on this toll booths.
The worst part here is that the potholes still exist on roads! They are not been fairly maintained. So where does the money go? The cost required for the maintenance of road is far less than the tolls collected. So where does our hard earned money go?
We should not refrain our self from paying taxes. But at the same time we need an answer for our questions. How long should we pay this toll? How much money is collected per day? How will the toll benefit you?
The issue of toll has been in the news since a very long time. Lot of agitation has been done against it. But are you aware why exactly has all this started? Why do we pay tolls? Here are some facts that will enlighten you with the dreaded concept of TOLL!!
What exactly is Toll and when did it start?
Toll roads have been in existence since the last 2700 years atleast. Germanic tribes used to charge tolls to travelers across the mountain passes. In India it started before the 4th century BC. In the 20th century Europe has introduced toll roads to finance the construction of motorway networks. And there started the ear of toll tax!
Toll is the tax which we pay to recover the cost of construction and maintenance of the road. Toll road is a public -private roadway for which fee is collected for passage. In India most of the highway projects are given on Public Private Partnership basis which is known as PPP. In this system the private organization constructs a road and recovers the money by collecting toll from public. Toll tax is supposed to be collected for a particular duration.
So how exactly is the toll pricing affected and why do we pay tolls?
Toll is collected in Manual, Automated and Electronic form. Out of which manual collection is the widely followed concept in India where in a collector collects the toll from public when the vehicles halts at the toll booth.
The two important factors which affect the toll rates are -traffic volume and willingness to pay. While constructing the roadways these factors are taken into consideration. For developing the Indian road network and providing its citizens with better connectivity and moreover to avoid the traffic congestion, government comes up with new flyover and highway projects. To commence such projects huge amount of capital is required. When the PPP invests in any project they obviously will look for the money recovery. Here comes the concept of toll where in the capital is recovered from the public who uses that route.
So why is this concept criticized?
People are basically unaware of the benefits which they should derive from toll tax. They have no clue where the money goes. Inspite of paying road tax to the state government and income tax to the central government, people are forced to pay the toll tax too. Top of it, the maintenance of the roads remain under question! Potholes still exist! Then where does our hard earned money go?
Maharashtra government has started the BOT model i.e. Build Operate and Transfer because the government has no money. In this concept the private builders build the road and recover the charge by collecting tolls for the duration of 15-20yrs.
But the charge of toll keeps on increasing. The fuel is already very expensive. To add to this the toll rates are getting hiked. So what can a common man do? Doesn’t he deserve the luxury of traveling in car his entire life? Do we even know we have Right to Information to ask questions to the government? Its time we wake up and work towards our rights and duties. And definitely the system needs to change.
There is an ongoing uproar on Sion-Panvel highway against the Kharghar toll naka. Team Socioethika had the opportunity to meet Mr. Vikrant Gharat who is leading the toll agitation.
Interview with Socioethika
image source : http://www.thehindu.com
We also met some sources and they gave us a briefing about the toll issue. Excerpts:
Could you please give us the toll review?
We have three posts working on toll which includes operator, supervisor and in charge. They work in shifts. First shift, second shift and night shift. Operator works on system and gives the receipt of the money. Supervisor takes a look on the vehicles. In charge controls the case if the supervisor cannot handle the matter. For instance if the vehicle shows fake cards then in charge looks into the matter.
How much is the tenure of the toll?
The tenure is for 16 years. We got the contract in 2010.
Which toll collection system do you follow?
We mostly use automated system for toll collection. But if in case the system is not working then the system is run manually.
What is your response to the price hike in the toll?
Every 3 years as per the government notification, the cost increases. Moreover this is because the maintenance cost keep on increasing.
How long does it take to recover the construction cost of the road?
If everyone pays the toll the recovery would be done in short period and the toll won’t exceed its limit. There is no control if someone doesn’t pay the toll as sometimes they just run away or cause accidents. Toll are necessary. If tolls won’t be there then how would the construction cost be recovered.
What are government’s rule for toll?
Government tolls vary as per the location. Notifications given are also different for different tolls. It completely depends on the highway location.
Government gives the tender tenure , depending upon the cost incurred to make the highway.
If we take into consideration, the cost incurred to make a highway is approximately 2-3 CR.
Dahisar Toll Plaza tenure is of 16 years or so, which will end up in 2027.
So the answer is crystal clear, the returns are extremely more then the cost incurred.