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Tolling plan ‘ill conceived’ – Savrala
Friday, 24 February 2012
Following Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan’s, reference in his Budget speech to reduced toll fees for the Gauteng Freeway Improvements (GFIP), the South African Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association (Savrala) is adamant that “this funding mechanism is inefficient, impractical and unacceptable” said Wayne Duvenage, vice president of Savrala.  “We salute the Minister for apportioning R5,8bn of our taxes toward the GFIP but ask why stop at a quarter of the amount required, especially in light of the extra 20c added to the fuel levy?”

In a statement Savrala said it was incorrect to assume that because the improved freeways would reduce congestion, save costs and improve safety, road users must now accept the funding thereof to be conducted through a “complicated, inefficient and extremely costly process”.  

“The GFIP urban tolling plan has been ill-conceived and thrust upon the Gauteng road user with minimal consultation or consideration to its impact.  It’s not about the fee. Even at 10c per kilometre, it is the principle of tolling our urban daily routes to work and back that is wrong. The implementation of an efficient road infrastructure is one of the roles of Government, and they are tasked to do this in the most efficient manner possible for its citizens.”

More frustrating, says Savrala is the double whammy of the additional 20c to fuel levy.  The current R1,77c fuel levy will increase to just under R2 per litre from April.  This will secure around R27bn per annum in future.  “Combine this with the existing long-distance toll revenues, local licence fees and some input from the national treasury pot (yes, it’s not strange to expect some of our general taxes to contribute toward roads) and you have sufficient funding for our national road infrastructure upgrading and maintenance, if the money is spent wisely.

“The fuel levy is the most efficient and equitable user-pay principle, which, when applied ensures that all road users contribute to all our roads in direct proportion of their usage.  Every time someone fills a tank with fuel, they contribute approximately R140 toward maintaining and building an efficient road system. To toll the GFIP suggests that all road upgrades in future should be tolled – unless SANRAL plans to be inconsistent with this principle.  Does one detect a quandary in the making?”    

Savrala continued to say that it was also wrong to assume that because the gantries had been built, there was no turning back.  “To press on with tolling our urban roads will be throwing good money after bad. There is a far more viable alternative, and Savrala, along with a number of other business associations, will now seriously consider a joint legal challenge against this process.”  

Initial consultations have revealed significant transgressions of the law and the constitutional rights of the public in this regard.


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