How much has the implementation of proposed toll roads cost us so far? The toll road philosophy, I would imagine, has by now being going on for easily in excess of 5 - 8 years, possibly even longer. For a start, we must have had SANRAL employees jetting all over the world, to assess the viability, and cost effectiveness of the e-toll system.
They must have then settled on an international model that they felt would work here in South Africa. Their next step would have been to appoint experts to engineer the most appropriate system. These overseas consultants must have been flown to South Africa, for endless meetings, to finalise designs on the systems to be adopted. Their consultancies fees must have been horrendous. The next phase of implementation would have involved technical experts flown out on a continuous basis, to advise on what electronic equipment was required to make the system work. This would have been followed by the appointing of contractors to erect the huge number of toll gantries we see, every so many kilometres along all major freeways in the Gauteng area.
These Gantries I can assure you, did not come at a cheap price. Once the gantries were set up, overseas experts must have been flown to South Africa, yet again in the hundreds, to set up all the cameras, lights, computers and software needed to run the system. The IT hardware and software costs must also have been absolutely horrendous. While these systems were being set up, SANRAL was busy building and staffing, a myriad of administration and control centres at strategic points along the routes to be tolled. Every time SANRAL was given an implementation date, all systems, administration and maintenance personnel must have been employed, ready and eager to get going.
At this stage a massive advertising campaign was embarked upon, and e-tag purchase offices opened all over Gauteng. Huge costs must have been expended on advertising, rental of offices, and payment of staff. At this point, SA motorists served the country proud, as all these tag purchase points remained empty all day long. At one stage, SANRAL had reached such a high stage of readiness, that the whole system went live, and actual simulated trails were implemented on motorists passing certain gantries. Their full staff complement was therefore mobilised, and ready for action. At each stand down, what happened to this huge staff compliment, already hired, and fully trained, at an enormous cost to the tax payer.
After each anticipated start date, were they all simply fired and allowed to disappear into the ether, for an entirely new army to be trained once the next alert was sounded. All the electronic equipment, cameras, transponders and receivers had to be removed from the Gantries to prevent any theft, pillage, or wilful damage to this high tech and sensitive equipment. I can guarantee the private contractors in all this stop - start action were anything but cheap. And so the saga goes on.
The Government is operating on completely shaky legs due to impending court cases, and enormous public anger and resistance to the whole e-tolling system, that they simply cannot ignore. Also consider how much money SANRAL has expended in legal fees defending its actions and policies. They realise quite clearly, that the whole system will rise and fall, on how many e-tags are sold. Each time a motorist passes a gantry, his cell phone will beep, confirming that his hard earned blood money, has now happily found a home in SANRALS bank account.
They realise that if they have to rely on sending out monthly accounts, the levels of non-payment due to motorists anger at the latest “Government Super Tax” now being levied, will kill their cash flow, and make the whole e-toll system crash, like the Lockerby Boing shoot down. As an ordinary tax paying citizen, I am sure the billions already spent on this absolute fiasco will never be made available to the public. A simple few cents added onto the fuel levy would have brought in more than enough revenue to cover the costs of the “World Cup” generated , minor highway upgrade, SANRAL insists have bankrupted it.
I would estimate that if all the above costs are added up, the e-toll system implementation must be close to the biggest financial disaster this country has ever embarked upon. SANRAL and the Government however, are too scared to be honest with the South African tax payer in admitting the extent of their idiotic financial folly. This would involve to large a loss of face. They stubbornly carry on with this white elephant, depleting the public coffers of billions upon billions of Rands the longer this abomination continues.
Finally I can only hope and pray, that the Gauteng motorist will have the courage and personal conviction, to cause this e-tolling CRIMINALITY to turn to dust, as it rightly should. Let e-tolling eventually be recorded in the history books, as one of the ANC most costly financial blunders. The added corruption, greased palms,and favours for friends aspects, as with the “Arms Deal”, will probably never ever be quantified or made public.
BREAKING NEWS : The implementation of the e-tolling system has been postponed from December to February – March – April ? next year.
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