JEDDAH, 10 October 2004 — Saudi Arabia plans to impose road toll on 16 expressways next year. The move is expected to generate SR1.8 billion by 2010 when it will be imposed on 20 major roads.
The third national transport plan, prepared by the German Technical Cooperation (GTC) for the Saudi Ministry of Economy and Planning, has recommended quick implementation of the toll.
Transport Minister Dr. Jabara Al-Seraisry has said that tollgates are to be set up along the superhighways planned for construction across the Kingdom. These tollgates were decided on as a means to fund the huge investment in the superhighway projects.
The toll will be charged at the rate of SR5 for private cars, SR7.5 for light trucks and SR15 for heavy trucks, for each 100 kilometers, Al-Watan daily reported quoting the document.
GTC proposed either to speed up implementation of the toll system or imposition of a fuel surcharge at the rate of four halalas per liter of petrol and seven halalas per a liter of diesel.
Al-Watan identified some of the expressways that are to come under the toll system. They include the two-way road from Majmaa, via Hafr Al-Baten, to eastern Kuwait, the road linking Hail with Abu Ajram and the Hail-Al-Jouf highway.
The expressways linking Wadi Al-Dawasser and Khamis Mushayt, Rafha-Turaif, Qasim-Hail, Tabuk-Madinah via Taima, Khafji-Abu Hadariya, Hofuf-Salwa-Batha, Taif-Baljurashi-Abha, Abu Ajram-Gurayat, Khamis Mushayt-Najran, Yanbu-Dhuba, Raniya-Wadi Al-Dawasser, and Al-Wajh-Al-Ula.
Four more roads will be brought under toll system later. They are the roads between Qasim, Madinah and Jeddah; Jeddah, Qunfuda, Darb and Jizan; Riyadh, Al-Kharj, Aflaj and Wadi Al-Dawasser; and Qasim-Hail Expressway.
Al-Seraisry addressed the Shoura Council in March to press for the toll regime as part of his ministry’s efforts to find new revenue sources to develop and maintain the country’s expressways. But sources close to the Shoura told Al-Jazirah daily that the council could reject the proposal and urge the government to look for other sources of income instead.
There was fierce opposition to the proposal from the public and transport companies. But economists said the measure would encourage the private sector to build and operate expressways, reducing pressure on the government.
According to previous reports, the toll would be restricted to new highways, where there will be alternative roads, with private operators building them under the build-operate-transfer system. The ministry is currently implementing 16 new road projects at a total cost of SR9 billion.