Cape Town - Toll tariffs for the proposed N1 and N2 Winelands toll roads in the Western Cape have not been set, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) said on Wednesday.
These tariffs will only be set by the minister of transport once the competitive bidding process for the road is complete, according to Sanral CEO Nazir Alli.
"At this stage it is far from complete. The concessionaire has not yet been appointed and the competition for the public private partnership (PPP) financing has not yet begun. Only once these and other steps have been completed will the minister make the final pronouncement on the tariff," said Alli.
He was commenting on media reports after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) overturned an earlier judgment, which had allowed Sanral to keep some information pertaining to the N1 and N2 Winelands toll roads in the Western Cape confidential.
Alli wanted to make it clear that Sanral respects the judicial process and accepts the decision of the SCA. He emphasised that, although Sanral "will not litigate in the media", it wishes to give the public some perspective on the matter.
"The City of Cape Town, in its founding affidavit, clearly states that the upgrading of the road will be beneficial. The public has been given an opportunity to comment during both the environmental and the intent to toll processes and this included information about toll tariffs," said Alli.
"The City of Cape Town, in particular, has been part of the consultative process from the beginning and failed to launch its review against the process within the legislated time period, irresponsibly jeopardising the tender process and delaying upgrades that are necessary to improve the safety of the road and address congestion."
Alli dismissed reports that the preferred bidder would make estimated profits of R48bn over the concession period as “simply not true”.
"The City of Cape Town has regularly misconstrued and misunderstood both the numbers and the processes related to this road," said Alli.
“What is misunderstood is that roads, which are vital for infrastructural and economic development in our country, are expensive to build and maintain. A road is never finished. It requires constant maintenance, including regular resurfacing and upgrading – and that will apply to this road as well."
He pointed out that this is the essence of a concession, as it will be in the case of the Winelands toll project, "where the concessionaire takes on these responsibilities and carries the risk for traffic and many other variables over the course of a 30 year concession".
The enormous economic development it can bring in his view, makes it is a strategic infrastructure project that is necessary to sustain and develop the Western Cape.
“There are also additional benefits to the economy in the eased flow of transport of people and goods in and out of the Western Cape. This has decided benefits for industry, tourism and a host of other sectors,” said Alli.
“The highways around Cape Town need urgent attention. Traffic congestion is now higher than anywhere else in the country and the longer the delay in rectifying the situation, the worse it will become.”
Alli emphasised that Sanral has not been attempting to keep anything about the road secret. However, the bidding process had not been completed and it was necessary to protect the competitiveness of the bids and the bidders’ confidential information.
"The Sanral board has been fully apprised of all aspects of the Western Cape Winelands Toll Project and all decisions relating to this project have been taken lawfully and in accordance with the Sanral Act," said Alli.
“Sanral takes its legislative mandate very seriously and holds strictly to the principles of transparency, accountability and a right to access of information about the very necessary upgrades to the N1 and N2 roads in the Western Cape.”
LISTEN to an interview with Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona about the proposed toll tariffs for the Winelands N1 and N2 toll roads.