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Tuesday Sep 27, 2011

Toll scheme costs outstrip that of Gautrain

The controversial Gauteng toll road system will cost taxpayers more than the Gautrain.

The toll system costs have skyrocketed by R1 billion in a year and it will now cost R2bn to build the roads.

This new costing brings the full amount of building the roads and toll system, and the toll operating costs for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) to nearly R35bn over 10 years - R5bn more than Gautrain has cost.

And motorists using the 185km of freeway making up the toll route will be footing the bill for this through toll tariffs of 40c/km for ordinary motorists whose vehicles are fitted with e-tags.

The latest figures have been calculated from a response by the Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele to questions by the DA's SB Farrow in the National Assembly last week.

Farrow asked Ndebele what the construction costs of building the roads and toll system were.

In his response, Ndebele broke down the 19 construction projects, providing the contract price adjustment (CPA) and VAT.

Taken together, the three amounts come to R19.8bn - a R2bn increase in the R17.5bn figure Transport MEC Ismail Vadi had earlier said the roads had cost.

Ndebele also provided the cost of building the toll system.

With CPA and VAT this R2.6bn.

This figure is up by over R1bn

totals from documentation in the possession of Independent Newspapers which shows that the costs for building the toll gantries and buildings in March last year to be R1.4bn.

The building of the roads and toll system come to a total of R22bn, but this does not include the operation of the toll system.

Further documentation shows that the operation of the tolls, including CPA and VAT, is estimated until 2020 to cost R12.5bn, meaning the total for this project is now R35bn.

The announced tariff structure will have motorcyclists paying 24c/km, light motor vehicles 40c/km, medium vehicles R1/km, and longer vehicles R2/km.

Taxis and buses will exempted.

Political parties, trade unions, NGOs and civil society reacted with anger to the tariff announcement last month.

Cosatu threatened to strike if the policy was not scrapped, and the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said it would join in.

Earlier this month, the DA submitted a petition to the Gauteng Legislature with more than 9 000 signatures against the proposed Gauteng toll system.

The party demanded system be halted.

The petition was now being considered by the petitions and public participation committee of the provincial legislature.

Ndebele said, in his National Assembly reply, that the determination of toll tariffs was based on the project's capital costs, and associated debt servicing, routine road maintenance costs, future maintenance and toll operational costs.

It also included other costs such as incident management and intelligent transport systems.

Ndebele said he had asked the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) to check if its original research finding, that freeway expansion will relieve congestion, was well founded.

"I have also asked the department to query whether sufficient attention was paid to opportunity costs - whether relieving congestion and addressing other developmental objectives would not be better addressed through spending on public transport infrastructure and on shifting a greater proportion of road freight on to rail."

Pretoria News


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