Reducing e-toll tariffs in the hope that compliance and revenue will increase won’t rectify the dismal e-toll revenue situation and makes matters worse when it comes to settling the bonds.
“What is needed is to abolish the e-tolls and seek alternative funding for the SANRAL debts,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO.
On Sunday, City Press and TimesLive reported that the Cabinet’s task team planned to submit seven proposals to Cabinet to resolve the e-toll crisis, including discounting e-tolls by 70%.
Current compliance levels are about 20%, today bringing in just R55m a month, which is a shortfall of almost R250m per month. Even if there is 100% compliance by motorists with a 70% discount, this isn’t going to bring SANRAL much more revenue.
City Press also suggested that e-tolls would be discounted to 10c per gantry but Duvenage says this suggestion is likely inaccurate, as this would reduce the tariff to just 3% of the current R3 per gantry.
“Reducing the toll tariffs or reversing past debt to entice the public to come on board will never resolve the GFIP bond payment problem,” says Duvenage. “Our view is the scheme should be scrapped and we have explained why this is the case.”
SANRAL tried reducing tariffs in 2015 by offering a 60% discount on outstanding debt, just two years after the scheme started operating. All this discount did was raise 2% of the outstanding debt while compliance levels continued to decline.
“The administrative environment in South Africa will never support an efficient e-toll scheme and it is time for our Government to realise this, as have other countries around the world which abandoned their failed e-toll schemes,” says Duvenage. “The Gauteng e-toll project is the most expensive and inefficient scheme in the world and will never achieve its intended aims of financing the overpriced Gauteng freeway upgrade.”
OUTA’s position, detailing various solutions, is set out in out 60-page position paper titled Getting Beyond the E-toll Impasse, published in August.