Toll tax collection a divisive matter inside CDA

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Jan 8, 2013.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) received Rs32.1 million as the highest bid for the contract of toll collection for one of its toll plazas on Monday.

Thirteen bidders took part in the auction for the IJ Principal Road Toll Plaza and Al-Rehman Enterprises entered the highest bid.

The CDA controls three toll plazas in Islamabad: the Rawat Toll Plaza on the Islamabad Highway, the IJ Principal Road Toll Plaza near the Railway Carriage Factory in I-11 and the Kashmir Highway Toll Plaza near sector G-13.

The Kashmir Highway Toll Plaza’s contract was auctioned in October 2012, and the auction for the Rawat Toll Plaza toll collection contract will take place on Tuesday.

The contract period for both the toll plazas was one year from the date of possession, according to the CDA’s auction notice.

But the contract period for the IJ Principal Toll Plaza has been cut short to six months, Ramzan Sajid said.

“Because of the ongoing work on the Pirwadhai Interchange, traffic going through the IJ Principal Road Toll Plaza has reduced,” Sajid said. “A one-year contract would have caused losses to the authority.”

The auction was conducted in the director’s office at the CDA revenue directorate in G-7/3. The bidders had deposited earnest money of Rs5 million to the CDA before the auction.

In December, there was a suggestion from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz to get rid of the toll tax for Islamabad residents who pass through the toll plazas. The idea was to only charge toll tax from non residents. But a senior official in the revenue directorate said the proposal never materialized.

The revenue official told The Express Tribune that the directorate had, instead, requested a 100 per cent increase in the current toll tax.

“The CDA is running in deficit,” the official said. “The toll tax can help us with road maintenance expenditure.”

But the idea was shot down by the Cabinet Division. The official claimed the increase was denied on the pretext that it would not benefit the government in the upcoming general elections.

The current advertised toll rates are unchanged from before. Non commercial vehicles pay Rs5 per entry trip whereas commercial vehicles – taxis, vans and tractors – pay Rs10. Flying coaches, mini buses and tractor trolleys are taxed Rs20. Trailers with more than 3-Axles pay the highest toll: Rs100 per entry trip.

The CDA also has annual passes worth Rs400 for “local cars and light vehicles.”

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