Toll Gates Too!

tell of the gravity of the reigning corruption in this area of activity.

Many Cameroonians are still stunned by the findings of the Commission which revealed that in one weighing station just outside Yaounde members of the Commission, momentarily replacing the workers of the station were able to obtain, in one working day, they were able to recover an amount equivalent to the average monthly intake of the staff of the station.

That was sometimes last year. Whether that action brought about any meaning change or a noted reverse in attitudes is still a subject of conjecture. But bad governance seems to be a shared anti-value in the management of our roads, because the toll gate sector leaves the impression that it is a free-for-all area where corruption goes on virtually in the open air.

Obviously miffed by the weighing station hubbub and the corruption potential which toll gates prognosticate, the Prime Minister and Head of Government Philemon Yang, at a recent meeting of the National Road Commission, instructed that everything be done to ensure the generalization of automation of the process of revenue collection on the nation’s highways.

It was about time. The Road Fund, set up by government to ensure handy cash for road projects, is known to be suffering from poor financing which has led to the snail-speed in the building of roads and the repair of those in poor condition. This was a novel and salutary government initiative which could have considerably shored up road development in the country if it had been managed as its initiators had imagined.

A few years back, contest was annually organized to compensate high performance posts. Could it be that the absence of such compensations that has brought about many disparaging practices in the functioning of toll gates? Decried practices range from the authorization of passage without paying for the appropriate amounts, amounts below the prescribed rate against the non-issuance of receipts, the repeated use of the same receipts with the connivance of gate attendants to the sale of parallel receipts which do not emanate from government revenue services.

The use of the money collected on a daily basis is also a matter of concern. In countless cases, some of the gate keepers, talking on condition of anonymity, also readily point to even the most-unsuspecting senior government officials who find no fault at all in reaping where the government sowed in order to build roads for all citizens. Some officials are even said to do the rounds at the end of the working day or at specified times to serve themselves.

Gloomy as the picture may be at these toll gates, the situation is far from fatalistic. If the Prime Minister’s instructions are applied, even partially, there will obviously be a u-turn and the badly-needed cash for our road projects will begin to flow in. Why do decision-makers fear installing automatic machines in the collection process if their sole aim is not to physically manipulate cash and consequently play around with it?

The Prime Minister’s directive must be given the appropriate teeth and close follow up, otherwise it will die as several other lofty moves such as the initiative taken some years ago to streamline the use of government vehicles did. There is however a glimmer of hope. The PM’s collaborators can amply learn from the measures the inter-ministerial committee working to check corruption at weighing stations has recently taken by an all-out modernization of weighing and revenue collection procedures. It is part of the price to pay to effectively stamp out corrupt practices in the revenue collection process. — Source : Cameroon Tribune

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