Gauteng’s ‘soaring’ toll cost

2011-05-27 09:15

The cost of operating Gauteng’s toll roads may be as high as R14 billion and not the R6.22 billion the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) said it would cost.

The Star newspaper reported today that this excluded the cost of feasibility studies, the design of the toll system and the supply of e-tags.

The cost of upgrading the roads was estimated at R17.5 billion. The Star wrote that the inflated operational costs were contained in a confidential report anonymously sent to the newspaper.

The report was dated April 2010 and discussed, in detail, the operation progress report on Gauteng open road tolling.

Sanral has denied the tolls would cost this much and said the tender to build and operate the toll roads was R6.22 billion over eight years.

However, in the report, Sanral indicated that the R6.22 billion did not include VAT and that there were additional costs.

United Democratic Movement secretary-general Bongani Msomi said the high cost of operating the toll roads was “extremely disconcerting”.

“This government pet project has stepped into more than one pothole in its road, and the end of the journey is not in sight,” he said.

“The poor consultation process, the minister’s stubborn reaction to people’s concerns and now the shock of the operational cost,” he said in a statement.

This was an example of government’s “poor prioritisation and planning”, he said, and questioned whether it could afford the high cost of operating the tolling system.

Earlier this week, the transport department said a report by the steering committee of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project could take another month.
The committee had been expected to finalise its report and hand it to Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele at the end of April.

The department said the toll project was in a phase of review, brought on by Ndebele’s acknowledgement that everything the government did should not put pressure on road users and the public in general.

Toll fees were originally set at 66 cents per kilometre, but were put on hold after a public outcry.

The tolls form part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which includes widening roads, easing congestion at bottlenecks and improving lighting.

It is managed by Sanral, which aims to upgrade 560km of roads in the province. 

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