In a media statement issued today, the President of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), Mr Chose Choeu, said:
QUOTE: The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) is gravely concerned at reports that all major roads in Gauteng will be tolled within three years and that the system will be rolled out to KwaZulu Natal and Cape Town. Of equal concern are reports that the Johannesburg Roads Agency is considering the imposition of tolls on the city’s motorways to fund the backlog in maintenance.
The statement attributed to the Department of Transport concerning major roads in Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal and Cape Town comes at a time when the introduction of tolls on the Gauteng Freeway System is being hotly contested. It also appears that little consideration is being given to the additional costs being borne by road users resulting from the delays and inconvenience experienced during the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. During construction on the Ben Schoeman motorway SACCI conservatively estimated that the cost to the economy on the that highway only was approximately R15 million per hour.
The statement by the Johannesburg Roads Agency that it intends to toll the city’s motorways is in direct conflict with the stated aims of imposing tolls which include:
· Tolls will only be applied to new roads or roads that have been upgraded to
such an extent that they can be regarded as new.
· Improvements in traffic flows must be such that the savings generated are in
excess of the cost of the toll.
SACCI opposes the introduction of tolls for maintenance purposes as there will be no resultant overall cost benefit to transport operators, commuters and other road users. SACCI predicts that increasing the tolls on Gauteng roads, no matter what the motivation, will discourage investment in the province and with extensions to KwaZulu Natal and Cape Town in those areas as well, particularly since these three centres comprise the core of industrial output and development in South Africa.
SACCI calls on the Department of Transport, the South African National Roads Agency Limited and the Johannesburg Roads Agency to seriously consider that implications of extending the toll system and to find alternative sources of funding for the road work planned.