RFA said in a notice this week that the planned automation will possibly be combined with an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system to improve compliance and law enforcement, as well as a Radio Frequency Identification tag in each MDC-qualifying vehicle.
The company is inviting information communication technology companies to provide information on what is available on the market before the end of this month.
The current system uses a logbook where the distance travelled is recorded and the calculated mass distance charges are then paid on a monthly or annual basis to the Road Fund Administration.
The logbooks are 50 pages and have to be filled in at every stop where a driver overnights.
According to RFA, this system has shortcomings and a significant amount of revenue could have been lost annually.
The planned automation has, however, drawn mixed reactions from transport companies.
Elias Mwadina, the Fleet and Logistics Manager at Wesbank, said in a recent interview that the idea at first value seems good for both the RFA and the transport companies since most drivers struggle to correctly fill in the log books due to low levels of education.
He, however, wondered how the technology would work if a truck crossed Namibian borders.
Mwadina also expressed concern that transport companies would spend money on tags, which would in turn be owned by the RFA.
Bertie Opperman, Logistics Manager at A van der Walt Transport, thinks the proposed system would be difficult to implement, especially cross-border charges.
Opperman said the proposed system would increase expenses for transport companies, adding that companies already spend about N$6,000 on tracking devices per truck and up to N$11,000 per truck on Mass Distance Charges per year.
“I am not in favour of the proposed system. It will be expensive. I suggest a fuel levy on bulk fuel,” he said.
There are 48,328 kilometres of roads in Namibia, 7,283km of which are bitumen standard, according to RFA statistics, while there are 34, 000 vehicles subject to Mass Distance Charges in Namibia.
RFA statistics show that long distance vehicles in Namibia travel more in neighbouring countries than they do locally. The vehicles are required to keep a manual logbook for recording distance travelled and for the determination of chargeable distances.
Some operators prepare and submit spread sheets calculating the chargeable distances together with logbooks to the RFA.
The RFA, which collects funds from the country’s Road User Charging System, collected over N$2 billion during the 2015/16 financial year, representing an increase of 18 percent compared to the previous year.
Most of this money is given to the Roads Authority for the management of the national road network. Other approved funding recipients include local authorities, the police and the National Road Safety Council.