THE drastic reduction in E-toll fees in Gauteng almost certainly means that there will be no tolls roads in Cape Town, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Precedents have been set and the 50% discount and exemptions for public transport and mini-bus taxis will make toll roads a lot less attractive for the unsolicited bidders who want to build the N1 and N2 toll roads in the Cape,” said Ms Janine Myburgh, President of the Chamber.
“In short, toll roads will no longer be so profitable and the companies that have offered to build and manage them will now look for other opportunities.”
The Chamber said that once precedents had been established they would have to be consistently applied. “If Sanral tries to apply one set of rules in Gauteng and another in the Cape it will be on a hiding to nothing. People will just not stand for that. It will also raise questions in terms of the Constitution and the requirement for administrative fairness.”
“Aside from that there are other legal issues. Gauteng may find a way to prevent people with unpaid toll fees from renewing their vehicle licences in Gauteng, but how can it enforce this in the Eastern Cape where many of the trucks on the road are registered?”
Mr Peter Hugo, chairman of the Chamber’s Transport Portfolio Committee, said the outstanding issue was the abuse of the “user pays” principle.
“In the Cape we have toll projects like the Huguenot Tunnel and the bridges on the Garden Route which have already been paid for, but Sanral continues to collect tolls fees and increases them every year. That makes it a form of tax. In effect, these users are being exploited and their toll fees are being used elsewhere.”
Janine Myburgh said that the Chamber’s view was that South Africa needed a consistent and fair policy on funding roads and the kind of “ad hoc” arrangement made in Gauteng only complicated matters.