Many of Zimbabwe’s motorist are applauding a partnership between the mobile company Econet and the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara), which enables motorists to pay tollgates with their mobile phones, rather than cash, which is in short supply.
Motorists who are registered with Econet’s mobile payment facility, EcoCash, can simply breeze through any of the 17-toll gates where the systems are in effect, without exchanging any cash or cards.
Motorists Fungai Gutu said he was happy that he no longer had to worry about carrying the increasingly elusive bond notes or other currencies.
“I was so happy because when I got to the tollgate, I was able to pull up my cell phone number and then I was processed and given my toll pass,” Gutu said. “It only took a few seconds.”
More than just the convenience of not carrying cash, some, like Harare resident Tawanda Karombo, are excited about the time motorists will now save from the new system.
“What EcoCash has done with Zinara, I think it will help people move quickly through the tollgates after they have paid, rather than being stopped there because they will have failed to pay, due to shortage of change or cards not working,” said Karombo.
EcoCash Chief Executive Officer Natalie Jabangwe-Morris said, all motorists who want to benefit from the option have to do, is register their vehicles on EcoCash Wallet to start using the mobile phone option at tollgates.
“We are excited about the partnership between EcoCash and Zinara, because people are able to use their EcoCash wallet to register their motor vehicle registration number on EcoCash wallet, so as to make it easy for motorists to pass through tollgates automatically, without the problem of using cash or cards,” said Jabangwe-Morris.
Chairman of the board at Zinara, Albert Mugabe echoed the sentiments, stressing the relief it will bring to many motorists and parents.
“This partnership will really help parents cross our tollgates after they have paid using EcoCash, meaning that we understand that money is unavailable,” said Mugabe. “But with this program parents won’t have to complain about how to cross the tollgates once they get there. The option is there now to pay with EcoCash.”
Zanu-PF legislator Dexter Nduna, who chairs the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure, lauded the EcoCash-Zinara partnership as astep in the right direction for the country’s quest to revive its economy through ZimAsset, its blueprint to achieve social and economic development, and also its application of technology.
“The partnership with EcoCash goes along with what the country wants to achieve,” said Nduna. “The country has said what it wants to achieve on the issue of Zim-Asset (Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation) where it has said let’s move forward to embrace ICT or Information Communication Technology.”
According to Techzim,a business and technology news blog, multiple motorists can sign on to one Ecocash account to pay tollgates. Toll charges are currently pegged at $2 for light vehicles, $3 for minibuses, and $4, $5 and $10 for buses, heavy vehicles and haulage trucks, respectively.