Plan for new N3 toll

2013-04-22 00:00

NO more tolls on the N3.

This was the firm commitment yesterday from the ANC and DA in KwaZulu-Natal, who both vowed to oppose a proposed new toll on the N3 between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

“We will do all in our power to prevent further tolling in the province,” said ANC provincial chairperson Senzo Mchunu.

Radley Keys, the DA provincial spokesperson on transport, took the same view: “We opposed it in the past and will oppose it again”.

South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) CEO Nazir Alli revealed plans for a new toll in a presentation at a strategic planning session of the portfolio committee on transport last week. He announced new tolls under consideration as part of Sanral’s 2012/13 Strategic Plan. They are situated in the following areas, although the exact locations were not given:

•N3 Durban to Pietermaritzburg;

•N12 Kimberley to Johannesburg;

•N1 ring road at Musina;

•N1 Kroonstad to Winburg; and

•N1 Botlokwa Interchange and pedestrian facilities.

“The proposal for these five new tolls has come about because of a funding problem,” said Ian Ollis, the DA’s national spokesperson on transport. “It’s because they can’t finance maintenance and construction from the existing budget.”

The proposed new tolls are in addition to the N1-N2 Winelands toll road in the Western Cape, the N2 Wild Coast toll road in the Eastern Cape and e-tolls in Gauteng. “It seems toll roads have become the easy answer to ‘we haven’t any money for maintenance’,” said Ollis.

Instead of increasing toll roads, Ollis said the fuel levy should only be used for road construction and maintenance. “Over the last 19 years, in some of those years the fuel levy has been spent on maintenance and building, but in others not and it goes into the general fiscus. Who knows where it went? It might have been spent on SAA.

“These toll roads will hit the poorest South Africans the hardest,” said Ollis. “It will increase the price of doing business, result in food price increases and will inevitably undermine economic growth and job creation.”

Transport Minister Ben Martins said yesterday he was unable to comment on the matter as he had been attending a cabinet meeting at the time of the presentation to the portfolio committee.

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona accused the DA of politicising the creation of infrastructure, saying that implementing new tolls was a long process involving social impact studies and several levels of approval.

“At the meeting last week, it was merely said that if we don’t have the funds, these would be the roads to toll. But none of the necessary studies have been done and we wouldn’t go ahead if the projects were shown not to be viable.”

Mona said Sanral was “implementing the policy of the government of the day”, and if political parties, including the ANC, opposed such proposals “they must use political processes to sort out the matter”.

A previous proposal for a toll at Cato Ridge was opposed unanimously by the KZN legislature in 2006. This followed Sanral’s announcement of its intention to toll the N2 in the eThekwini metropolitan area to fund the construction of the N2 in the Eastern Cape, and to construct a toll plaza at Cato Ridge on the N3.

All political parties raised concerns that the toll roads would directly threaten the KZN economy. Then transport MEC Bheki Cele said he was firmly opposed to the addition of more toll roads in the province.

Mchunu said the ANC would oppose any further tolling in the province. “We stated in the past that we believe we are over-tolled in this province,” he said.

Mchunu said the ANC had opposed previous attempts to create new toll roads in KZN. “At the time we thought it was no longer about road construction and maintenance alone, but was tending to go ahead purely for profit.”

Keys said the existing Mariannhill toll plaza should be sufficient to pay for the road between Pietermaritzburg and Durban to be maintained.

Echoing Ollis, Keys said the fuel levy should be used exclusively for road maintenance.

“The National Party created the levy for road construction and maintenance, but then started using it for other things and the ANC have followed their predecessors’ lead.”


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