Discrimination and inconsistencies in SANRAL’s road funding mechanisms arise

On 21 October, Minister Dipuo Peters opened the Umgeni R512 Freeway interchange in KwaZulu-Natal, citing SANRAL’s plans to pump R37 billion into this region’s road networks, and stating that tolling would not be introduced as a funding mechanism.

22/10/2015 11:38:51

Discrimination and inconsistencies in SANRAL’s road funding mechanisms arise

While funding such important economic infrastructure with general taxes and fuel levy mechanism is a positive move by government, one has to ask why some provinces - such as KwaZulu-Natal - are spared the ‘SANRAL Slap’ of tolling to fund these planned road developments, whilst SANRAL appears to be discriminating against Gauteng and the Western Cape by tolling their urban and peri-urban routes. Could it be that political forces are driving a more favourable treatment towards the KZN over other provinces?

“It is this inconsistency in SANRAL’s decisions, which raises questions about the rationale of a number of their actions,” says Wayne Duvenage, the chairman of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA). “We are receiving many questions and concerns linked to past tolling decisions taken across the country by SANRAL, in addition to their reversal of a prior requirement for well maintained alternative roads along tolled routes, their unsolicited bidding mechanism and their ever escalating toll tariffs, despite the fact that capital costs of many freeway projects have been paid off. This practice certainly contradicts their interpretation of a User-Pay’s scheme. Instead, it is OUTA’s opinion that SANRAL’s toll network has become a ‘User Grossly Overpays’ scheme.”

“E-tolls have already collapsed due to widespread civil courage to ignore the unjust policy,” says Duvenage, “however, government would be wise to act fast and with caution, to pro-actively deal with a potential spill-over of the ‘#FeesMustFall’ campaign, into a #TollsMustFall drive against SANRAL’s entire toll plaza network.

More recently, we have seen a noticeable increase in the ire of residents in the East of Pretoria (Stormvoël) and other areas such as Waterval Boven, Swartruggens, KZN South Coast and Hillcrest who’s businesses and daily commutes have been negatively impacted by toll plazas erected in their areas. We believe that citizens in these areas will begin to exercise their rights to challenge some of these decisions, many of which have SANRAL’s failure to adhere to Section 195 of the Constitution.

OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.