Liberia, The Oldest Republic without A Toll System
On a daily basis, thousands of Liberian drivers and commuters batter bumper to bumper traffic on Tubman boulevard, Robertsfield Highway, the Gardnerville Road pre–Japanese Highway, and other roads to get to their various places of employment, schools, or other businesses. This extremely terrible traffic congestion has a negative impact on their health, their vehicles, and overall production at work. Their times are wasted because they arrive at work, schools or other places extremely exhausted from the long commute and their vehicles tend to have an excessive breakdown.
To build roads costs billions of dollars and those roads have to be effectively maintained. Raising funds with the introduction of Toll gates on some of the strategic roads will certainly create much-needed jobs and raised the funds urgently needed to maintain the roads and urgently facilitate the demands of social services, which are important for the growth of the country. Taking into account the government’s limited resources, due to several global economic factors and urgent national priorities, the introduction of Toll roads will also accelerate the availability of initial funding for construction, compared to traditional tax-based funding. Toll roads therefore will effectively enable the proper maintenance of the road network, and reduce the total net cost to the economy, thereby ensuring greater opportunities for prosperity and growth.
The high-standard national road network has a direct coalition to promote economic development, regional integration of the counties, and social cohesion. Effective road transport has the ability to form a vital and fast-growing sector of the transport sector, supporting trade and growth through the movement of goods and people, allowing economic specialization, spreading skills, and enhancing productivity. Roads also reduce rural isolation, especially in southeastern counties, and improve citizens’ access to jobs, health facilities, education, and social services.
As the oldest independent country in Africa, Liberia has never had a history of toll roads which could create much-needed revenue to effect repair and maintain the roads. It’s clearly established that we have spent hundreds of millions to construct roads throughout the country. However, it has long been established that inadequate road maintenance tends to shorten the life of the roads and lead to high operating coast, along with a high incidence of deadly accidents. The overwhelming majority of the roads throughout the country, including the recently constructed Japanese Highway that isn’t properly and timely maintained, will continue to cost the Liberian taxpayers millions of dollars to maintain, which in the long term will negatively affect the economy and society.
The roads throughout the country aren’t properly and timely maintained, taking into account the government’s limited resources and unlimited priorities. Therefore, now is the time for the citizens to take control of their destiny and pay to drive on current and future roads. We know that the average Liberian will find it extremely difficult to pay for a service that is generally perceived to be free seems to be an absurd thing. They will continue to ask themselves are to why they should be forced to pay for a road when they want to move from one place to another. To understand this, the Liberian people need to know what’s a toll road and how it will have a positive impact on their lives, the economy, and effective movement. They also need to know, why they might have to pay taxes and at the same time pay tolls, what the tolls fees are used for and why do they have to pay tolls on an existing road, which were paid for by them through taxes.
Job creation and gross domestic product (GDP)
Job creation is extremely important to the long-term success of any government. Toll roads have the potential to significantly increase Gross Domestic Product of the nation over the lifetime of the project. When effectively implemented, a toll road project will lead to direct (constructors, builders, architects) and indirect (toll road attendants, casual workers) job creation. Direct jobs are created in the construction, operation, and maintenance of the road, and indirect jobs creation are stimulated through the increased business and commercial opportunities following the development.
- Saves time
One of the most well-known benefits of toll roads is that they can save a considerable amount of journey time when compared with other routes. As toll roads tend to be quite smooth and of good quality, you can travel a lot quicker cross-country on them, as opposed to alternative back-road routes. Take, for example, it took approximately two hours to travel from the National Port Authority to the Red Light in Paynesville. Immediately after the construction of the Japanese Highway, it now takes approximately 25 minutes for the same distance. Though it is currently not tolled, the appropriate funds have to be raised to timely and effectively maintain the road. Raising the funds through a toll will be the most effective solution. Due to other urgent priorities, we can’t always expect public funds to be used to maintain thus road. They certainly aren’t enough to sustain or maintain roads at the current or anticipated future levels based on the prevailing interest to expand traffic and the road network throughout the country.
- Saves Money, Reduce stress, Wear and Tear
When discussing the benefits of toll roads, it may seem strange to think that using toll roads could save you money on your journey. However, when considering the alternative route to your destination, the petrol cost in comparison to the toll road cost could surprise you. As many of the toll road routes are designed to reduce journey time, using a different route could be adding a considerable amount of miles to your journey and therefore cost you much more in fuel.
The ability to get to one destination in significant reduction in journey time, tend to have a positive impact on the health of the drivers and commuters. Also, as toll road routes are normally very straightforward and also acclaimed for being of good quality and car-friendly, there is much less chance of any damage occurring as a result of the road. Whereas, on unfamiliar back-road routes, there could be random potholes and uneven road surfaces, which could potentially result in some small damage occurring to the car’s tires.
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘safety in numbers’ and this is just as true when driving than for any other situation. As the toll routes tend to have more cars using them, should you breakdown at night or need to pull over in an emergency, there are normally dedicated lay-bys which are well lit. Should you break down on a different route, in an area you are not familiar with in the dark, you may feel unsafe, and it could be potentially dangerous.
- Improved road
In order for a road to be considered a toll road, it has to be both upgraded and expanded. This expansion of the anticipated tolled road provides increased capacity and thus reduced congestion. By the same token, the upgrade of a road generally significantly improves safety and decreases accidents. Expansion of roads of the Gardnerville/Japanese Highway has both reduced travel time and accidents. However, without proper timely and urgent maintenance, the projected life span of the road will be greatly reduced
Overall, Tolls tend to act as a congestion control charge, because it effectively rations the use of the road to those with the highest need to travel, thus reducing unnecessary trips and congestion.
Taking into account, the notion that most Liberians might find it difficult to pay for a service that they perceived to be free, we have the duty to change their mindset on the citizens responsibilities tio their country. As the late United States President JF Kennedy said, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
These might be some of the questions many Liberians might be asking:
Why do I pay taxes and now also tolls?
Paying a portion of income to the government is a mandatory obligation. Our tax dollars are used to finance the various public services the government render to us. Taxes are used to pay for those services such as defense, social security, medical and health program, infrastructures development etc. Tolls, on the other hand is a User Fee. We’re paying only for the portion of a road that we use. The funds collected are allocated and used directly on roads maintenance, construction and financing, which is a direct benefit to the motorist.
Why do we have to pay tolls on an existing road, which was paid for out of taxes?
Maintenance! Maintenance! Maintenance! Road performance depends on how and when maintenance is performed. Roads deteriorate over time due to environmental influences such as approximately six months of heaven rain in the country, excessive heat and overloading etc. Tolls are not levied on the value of the current asset (road), but only on the initial and future improvements, including operations and maintenance. Revenue derived from taxes are used on other, non-toll roads, including city streets, as clearly exhibited in the Rehab Community along the Robertsfield Highway.
What are my toll fees used for and what do I get from using a toll road?
Road tolls have been in use throughout the world for many years as a mean of financing new or upgraded transport infrastructure. In addition, of providing a dedicated ongoing revenue stream, which enables the road to be adequately maintained and improved, independent of tax-based revenues, those loans taken to either construct or upgrade the roads have to be repaid.
In conclusion, because those roads are financed, they have to be built and maintained to the highest possible standards. As a result, we are ensured of a smooth ride, saving us on the running costs of our vehicles and saving us time. Improved security ensures we have a safe and pleasant journey. Tolls ensure that funding is available much sooner, for adding highway capacity at the right time thereby relieving congestion, reducing losses in time and productivity.