Councils used to issue the licences on behalf of Zinara and retained the bulk of the funds for the maintenance of roads.
But the licences are now being handled by Zimpost, which collects the funds on behalf of Zinara.
Before disbursing the money, Zimpost takes a 10% administrative charge, which was originally meant for the local authorities.
This percentage in terms of a city like Harare, which started collecting licensing fees in 1961, represented a casual workforce of 50 workers working on roads.
Council officials are concerned that they are getting less money than they used to collect before the sudden shift in policy.
Officials from the Harare City Council also complained that the money the city was getting from Zinara was far much lower than what it made through licence fees, being one of the cities registering most cars in the country.
However, Zinara CEO Frank Chitukutuku said the centralisation of the issuing of licences, which began in October last year, had brought “sanity”.
“When the councils were collecting licence fees, it was not a right for them to do so, but a privilege extended to them by Zinara in terms of the Road Act,” Chitukutuku said.
“Zinara has the mandate to collect all road user charges including fuel levy, transit, toll, overload and licence fees.”
He said the authority had noticed that some councils were abusing the fees to pay salaries and other running costs instead of maintaining roads.
Chitukutuku said the move had also benefitted motorists who now pay a uniform fee of US$20.
He said councils could not demand to be paid more because cars could travel all over the country, even if they were registered at a certain council.
“Councils need to understand that it can happen that Bindura gets money for periodic maintenance and Bulawayo gets for routine maintenance and that means Bindura will get more because the process is more expensive,” he said.
Zinara estimates that registered cars on the country’s various roads are between 600 000 and 700 000.
Chitukutuku said while Zinara has done a lot regarding routine maintenance since the introduction of toll fees and centralisation of license fees, funds were still inadequate to overhaul the country’s road network.
He said the authority gets US$1,2 million from toll fees per month yet rehabilitating a road like Harare-Masvingo required between US$300 000 and US$500 000 per kilometre.
Council officials said what Chitukutuku was forgetting was that legal suits against council would increase as a result of non-maintenance of roads due to this new arrangement