Durban - South African National Roads Agency CEO Nazir Alli announced on Wednesday that construction of the N2 Wild Coast toll road, in KwaZulu-Natal, had officially begun.
Speaking to the business sector at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga, Alli said: “We are finally starting to build the Wild Coast toll road, we signed the design agreement in January 2003 and 13 years later we have had a briefing session for prequalifying the contractors on the job.”
He said research done on communities living between Port Edward and Port St Johns showed that people in the area had gotten poorer in the thirteen years.
“Our detractors who complained have never offered any solutions or cared about the people in that area. People don’t want to live under R1 400 a month… people are asking us for jobs and those people are not fussing over the fact that there is going to be a toll road.”
He said over the years there had been various objections to the toll road.
“The objections were unfounded and were denying the people a decent living.”
He said the e-tolling system, which has been met with resistance in Johannesburg since implementation, was an open road system operating without boom gates.
“This is because of the large traffic volumes, it would have not been feasible to have booms because we would have one huge car park and that is why we have an open road tolling system and the collection of the toll is done electronically.
“If the volumes increase in KZN then we will consider it but at the moment we will still operate the boom gates.”
Alli said he was concerned about the increasing disregard of the rules of the road.
About 45 people are killed on the roads per day, he said.
“We need to be extremely careful that we don’t erode the rule of law just because we do not like the government’s policy.
“It does not matter whether it is about paying for your toll fees, the law says pay your toll fees and that should be respected.
“Rules of the road say you should not travel over a certain speed and that should be respected, don’t blame speeding, it is disregarding the law that will get you arrested or into an accident."
Alli said people needed to change their mind set towards the rules.
He said Sanral had learnt many lessons with the introduction of the e-tolls.
“We have about 1.3 million registered people and they are all paying. We exempted public transport; the narrative was that we were scared of the taxi drivers. But we were doing this to protect the interests of the poor because many of them use public transport to get to work.”
He said improving South Africa’s railway system would assist in decreasing road fatalities.
“I wish we could improve our railway system because there are certain kinds of traffic that should not be on our roads, two weeks ago a tanker full of ethanol on the N3 near Peter Brown Road crashed into our work zone.
“Those kind of product should not be on our roads. We want to see the improvements in the railway system because the two systems [roads and railway] complement one another,” he said.