E-tolls: Cosatu ‘appalled’ that Austrian firm will make R670m

2013-06-13 13:23

Cosatu is appalled that an Austrian e-tolling company expects to make about R664 million a year from the Gauteng e-tolling system, the trade union federation has said.

“This makes the argument for tolls more and more untenable, and the argument for using taxation more and more obvious,” the Congress of SA Trade Unions said in a statement today.

“This is further evidence that e-tolls amount to the commodification of our highways – a business opportunity for a private company rather than a basic public service for the community.”

Bloomberg reported that Kapsch TrafficCom AG (KTCG), the Austrian maker of toll-road systems, said it would get an annual revenue boost of “significantly more” than €50 million (R670 million) for eight years from the Gauteng project.

Kapsch’s board member Andre Laux reportedly said: “All judicial and parliamentary hurdles are out of the way.”

Yesterday, the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) denied that money collected from e-tolling in Gauteng would go overseas.

“This is simply not true,” spokesperson Vusi Mona said in a statement.

“What must also be made clear is that all tolls collected on GFIP (Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project) go to Sanral. ETC (the electronic toll collection joint venture) is paid for services rendered on a monthly basis, and the payment is strictly according to a bill of quantities as specified in the tender contract.”

Mona said the dividends they declared could be paid to foreign companies only after income tax was paid in South Africa.

Sanral awarded the e-tolling contract to the ETC because its tender was more than R2 billion lower than the next offer, he said.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) expressed its shock at Kapsch TrafficCom’s announcement.

“This is money that is being extracted directly from the pockets of hard-pressed citizens to improve the profits and wealth of overseas business,” chairperson Wayne Duvenage said in a statement.

“The figure Kapsch mentions is around 45% of the annual running costs for the e-tolling system quoted by Sanral and the SA Treasury, which depicts sizeable profits for an offshore company, paid for by the Gauteng road user.”

Cosatu said it supported Outa’s call for the Public Protector or even a possible judicial commission of inquiry to probe the e-tolling deal.

“This news will make workers more determined than ever to fight e-tolling and support the call for an efficient, safe, and affordable public transport system,” said Cosatu.

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