NEWS & ANALYSIS

Premier Makhura keep your SOPA promise – Solly Msimanga

DA says the president should end failing e-tolls

Mr President, end failing e-tolls, Premier Makhura keep your SOPA promise

24 October 2018

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on the President, Cyril Ramaphosa to cancel the contract of the Electronic Toll Collections Joint Venture Consortium with Kapsch TrafficCom, which is due to expire in 2019, since it is projected that 93% of the money raised through e-tolls goes straight into the hands of the Austrian company which is the collection agency while only 7% is used for maintaining Gauteng roads. Clearly, e-tolls does not benefit the residents of Gauteng.

We have learnt that the President will soon be announcing more stringent measures to deal with the non-payment of e-tolls, but we are not hopeful that this announcement will ease the excessive burden imposed on commuters by the failing ANC.

The President should rather be announcing the scrapping of e-tolls and alternative plans of funding Gauteng roads.

E-tolls are an excessive and unnecessary burden on Gauteng residents who are struggling to survive due to inflation and the rise in petrol prices. The E-tolls also have cost implications on goods such as groceries which pass through Gauteng, meaning that it affects all South Africans.

Sanral is now issuing summonses for non-payment of e-tolls to overburdened companies and motorists.

This has a major negative impact on these businesses that are trying to survive during this recession period.

Gauteng Premier, David Makhura has on numerous occasions indicated that e-tolls are not working yet nothing has happened. Another broken promise y the failing ANC.

During his State of the Province Address, this year, Premier Makhura declared that e-tolls are not working and he promised Gauteng residents that he will be engaging with the President to discuss a solution to e-tolls.

However, to date the Premier has not given us any feedback and this e-toll saga remains unresolved.

The failing ANC has been using this controversial tolling system as a means of swaying sentiment in their favour ahead of the 2019 national elections.

Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande indicated 2 months ago that we owe SANRAL R67 billion for the building of the freeways.

The DA calls on the national government to find an alternative way of funding and maintaining Gauteng roads.

Here are the facts about e-tolls:

- Government claims that it owes R67 billion for the building of the province’s freeways. The Gauteng freeway upgrades cost just under R22-billion, including VAT. What does the rest of SANRAL’s R67-billion debt have to do with e-tolls? This means that Sanral has grossly overpaid for the Gauteng freeway upgrade, by as much as 67%;

- The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project was originally budgeted to cost R12 billion, although it eventually went up to about R20 billion, thanks to one of the most expensive roads (cost per kilometre) constructions in the world;

- Only 30% of road users in Gauteng pay their e-tolls. Motorists reportedly owe Sanral R11 billion in this regard;

- Gauteng’s e-tolls will struggle to fetch R900m this year, which is substantively lower than the R3-billion required per annum, to achieve their intended targets;

- During the past two years, only R10.231 million was collected through legal processes, costing more than R4 million in legal fees in the process;

- Sanral reported an annual loss of R260m from R4.96bn the previous year; it said it would approach the capital markets in the first quarter of 2019 to raise about R600m;

- Sanral has very high irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure as a result of not following supply chain management processes. For the financial year 2016/2017 Sanral’s irregular expenditure rose to R10 billion, and fruitless expenditure is R15 million. These are huge amounts – taxpayers’ money should not be wasted in such a manner.

- According to Sanral’s annual report in Parliament, from 2016 until August this year, 15505 summonses were issued. Of these, only 3724 were served on defaulters meaning that only 24% of summonses issued reached the defaulters. There are still about 2.2million summonses to be issued and served;

- Due to the cost of e-tolls,143 of Sanral’s 339 road design and construction projects have now been reduced to perform the most critical maintenance. That means that many new roads will not be built, which will in turn lead to growing traffic and more problems on existing roads. Sanral is already two years behind with its road build programme;

On behalf of the people of Gautng and South Africa, the DA calls on the President to provide the details of the contract of the Electronic Toll Collections Joint Venture Consortium with Kapsch TrafficCom.

We are requesting the President to provide clarity as to whether they will be renewing the contract and if so, to provide the reasons why it will be renewed.

I have requested my colleagues in the Provincial Legislature and National Assembly to submit questions with regards to the amount of money raised through e-tolls in Gauteng in order to determine whether this money is sufficient to maintain our roads.

We call on the failing ANC government responsible for erecting these e-tolls to bring them down now!

Gauteng is in need of change that builds One South Africa for All, where transport across the province is affordable and government is responsive and caring

Issued by Solly Msimanga, DA Gauteng Premier Candidate, 24 October 2018