Anti-tolling group praises Sanral on new fuel funding strategy

Cape Town – The organisation founded to take on Sanral over Gauteng’s e-tolls welcomed new CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma’s mission of balancing the national roads agency’s funding portfolio with fuel tax based revenue as well as toll income.

The new CEO's approach “is a welcome departure from the approach taken by Mr Nazir Alli, Sanral’s former CEO, who chose to adopt a less inclusive and adversarial approach, one which has given rise to a stand-off between society and the state on the Gauteng e-toll situation”, Civil action group Outa said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Outa has consistently stated that the seamless fuel levy which attracts no administration costs, is an existing user pays policy and mechanism best suited to fund urban freeway upgrades,” said Ben Theron, Outa’s transport portfolio director.

“The sad reality is that the Gauteng freeway upgrade would have been paid off by now, if nine cents of the national fuel levy had been allocated to this from the onset of the project.”

Outa was responding to a statement made by Macozoma, in which he said he wants to engage with South Africans to achieve a balanced funding portfolio with fuel tax-based revenue and toll income.

“The agency will pursue fresh engagements with relative provincial and municipal governments to ensure that road infrastructure planning is integrated and that Sanral programmes contribute to regional and local social and economic development,” he said.

“We will explore progressive strategies to pursue partnerships with the private sector and civil society to ensure successful national road infrastructure development over the medium to long term.

“This will bring certainty in terms of Sanral’s borrowing plans and its capital project pipeline,” said Macozoma.

Theron said tolling schemes for long distance economic corridors make sense, but not when these are applied to daily commuter routes such as the Gauteng Freeway network.

“After three years of operation, there can be no doubt that Gauteng’s e-toll scheme has failed to deliver the efficiency required of a user pays funding mechanism.

“Compliance levels are now below 20% and the time has arrived for Government and Sanral to scrap the defunct scheme,” he said.

Outa said it looks forward to engaging with Macozoma and to play a meaningful role “in restoring this once respected national brand to its former glory”.

“We will gladly participate in transparent decision making which is conducted through meaningful public participation, on matters that have the best interests of the public at the core of their intended outcome.”

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