WHILE driving along Lahore Ring Road I often see some drivers racing through the toll plaza barrier without paying the fee. These are not just wagon and coaster drivers; they are pseudo-intellectuals, residing in big bungalows, arguing over the number of zeros in then bank accounts and speculating over the next bitcoin endeavour.
It’s ok to complain about inflation and the spike in LPG and petrol prices but it is not ok to pay toll tax. Federal reserves are already sparse to non-existent and each and every minuscule action aggregates ultimately to give a bigger picture.
The traffic count is projected at 80,000-100,000 cars per day for the northern loop and 40,000-50,000 for the southern loop of the Lahore Ring Road. Assuming that the existing prices persist for the foreseeable future, this is likely to result in a revenue of Rs1.5 to Rs1.9 billion a year- money that could boost social welfare; money that could pull us out of the quagmire we are currently bogged, in and money that could get some child educated.
Ring Road has saved time, not to mention fuel, and it does not exist anywhere else in the country. We are lucky to have it in our city, but instead of displaying our gratitude we whizz past like it is for free.
The present toll rate of Rs 35 for 62km translates into 56 paisa a km. However nobody is expected to travel the full loop. The same toll translates into 87 paisa a km for the northern loop and Rs1.6 for the southern loop. People travelling shorter distances have a much higher applicable per-km rate.
Every system has its operational constraints. The government should introduce a distance-based toll structure so that it is fair all citizens using it.
Imagine how horrendous the journey would be if you had to take an alternative route.
S. Ahsan Raza Sherazi
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019