Tajik Drivers Alarmed at Toll Road

The introduction of tolls on the major highway leading from the capital Dushanbe to Khujand, the main town in northern Tajikistan, has not gone down well with drivers.

Tajik Drivers Alarmed at Toll Road

The introduction of tolls on the major highway leading from the capital Dushanbe to Khujand, the main town in northern Tajikistan, has not gone down well with drivers.

Saturday, 11 July, 2009
Shahodat Saibnazarova reports that the Dushanbe-Khujand highway will be followed by others, after parliament approved the measure. The revenues will go towards highway maintenance and also to pay off Chinese loan used to revamp the route.



At between 22 and 25 US dollars, the fee to use the 350-kilometre road appears high by any standards. But professional drivers who ply the route seem more concerned about future increases.



“It’s stable with small prices right now, and it’s worth going,” said Ghofur Mirzoev as he waited to pay the toll. “But next thing it will be pay for this, pay for that.”



One of the major objections to making the Dushanbe-Khujand route subject to tolls is that there is no alternative route that drivers could reasonably be expected to use if they prefer not to pay.



Some believe the fees will be built into the retail price of goods transported on the toll road, for example making fruit and vegetables from northern Tajikistan dearer when they hit Dushanbe market stalls.



One hope among drivers is that there will be fewer traffic police along the route stopping and fining them in what is often a thinly-disguised form of extortion.

Tajikistan
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