Steep toll hikes not justified - chamber

Cape Town - The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the assurance by the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) that there will be no e-tolling in the Cape, but is still opposed to any form of toll roads within the city limits.

“We are also concerned that, if the N1 and N2 tolls roads go ahead, toll fees will probably be low to start with and then will be increased regularly as we have seen with other toll roads,” said Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber.

She said the chamber would watch any future increases very carefully.

The major cost for toll roads was the actual construction cost. This was usually financed by some form of bond or loan and repayments would not vary much over the 20 or 30 years of the loan.

So there would be little justification for the kind of annual increases seen for the Huguenot Tunnel and Chapman’s Peak, according to Myburgh.

Sanral said the “payways” would be built by a contractor, who would raise his own finance, manage the project and then transfer it free of charge to Sanral at the end of the concession period.

“This is a much better way of building toll roads, but the question is: Who will fix the toll fees and ensure that the public is not exploited?” asked Peter Hugo, chair of the chamber’s transport portfolio committee.

“Unfortunately Sanral has set very bad examples by charging exorbitant toll fees long after the construction costs of some of their projects have been recovered. They have set some very tempting precedents for future operators.”

The Chamber was also concerned about the unsolicited bid process and the use of a preferred bidder.

“Surely a better way to control costs would be an open tender process,” said Hugo.

“I fear we are going to end up with another monopoly and ineffective price regulation.”

- Fin24

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