By Miriam Mangwaya

DARING villagers in Mapiye village under Chief Musarurwa have set up their own “tollgate,” cashing in on motorists who are evading the official Zinara plaza along Chivhu-Murambinda Highway, about 18km from the farming town.

The villagers set up a barbed wire gate which serves as a barricade for motorists using the makeshift road which is some 200 metres from the Zinara tollgate.

They manually open the gate for motorists after receiving a negotiable fee which is between $2 and $5 for light motor vehicles and commuter omnibuses who mostly use the illegal tollgate.

Light motor vehicle and commuter omnibuses pay a toll fee of $10 and $15 respectively at Zinara tollgates.

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Mashonaland East police spokesperson Inspector Tendai Mwanza said they had not yet received a report on the case.

Zinara spokesperson Augustine Moyo requested questions on email but had not responded by the time of going to print.

Although the villagers refused to answer questions from NewsDay, they claimed that the motorists who were evading the official tollgate pass through their farming fields, therefore they could not use the land for productive agriculture.

“I have to earn something since I can no longer use my field for farming purposes because part of that arable land is now a road for traffic,” said one villager who refused to be identified.

NewsDay could not, however, establish how much the villagers collect from motorists per day.

According to a source in the neighbouring Hokonya village, said those in charge of the illegal tollgate, popularly known as the Mapiye tollgate, have come up with their own working shifts to collect fees from motorists.

“They are also putting barricades on other tracks that motorists might want to use to avoid their tollgate,” said the source who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.

In separate interviews with NewsDay, motorists said they prefer the Mapiye tollgate because the fees were affordable.

“The Mapiye tollgate is convenient because you can negotiate with the crew and pay less than they demand and sometimes if you don’t have the cash, they can allow you to pass,” said a pirate tax driver who only identified himself as Max.

The Chivhu-Murambinda tollgate was operationalised in September 2018.