After a delay of several months, SANRAL finally announced the toll tariff for the GFIP in early February 2011 which sent shockwaves through the province. Overnight the conversation turned to how much additional cost to the motorist, the anticipated higher costs of doing business and examining alternative routes to avoid the tolls.
Very few people realised that the real cost would be reflected by higher commodity prices on the supermarket shelves.
“The announcement of SANRAL’s 66 cents a kilometre means horrific implications for the motorist, not to mention the nasty dent it will put in the freight industry’s pocket,” said the AA. Before discounts, toll road users are looking at a flat rate of 40 cents for light vehicles and motorcycles, R1.98 for small trucks and R3.96 for larger trucks.
“The AA anticipates that the implementation of the tolls will have a negative impact on the regional economy with the cost of living increasing across all areas. In effect, goods in Vereeniging will become more expensive because of the distribution of good by road attracting toll fees too,” the AA added.
“We’re likely to see alternative routes becoming gridlock areas where back roads offer a toll free substitute, but South Africans are going to need to relook their stance on Public Transport where it’s available,” says the AA. “A trip from William Nichol to the airport could cost you a cool R38!”
Solutions lie in improved public transport solutions, with a need to accelerate the roll out of Rea Veya to carry more routes and possibly looking at Gautrain buses as forms of public transport could be a start. We might also see some out of the box thinking from the business sector with a more “work from home” mentality coming through.
Following very heated public debates, the Ministry of Transport announced the formation of a Toll Steering Committee which would hear further public comment on the issue. The final report, once handed to the Minister and the Gauteng MEC would be made public and be followed by a further public meeting of stakeholders. To date this has yet to happen – more than seven weeks late.
In the interim, the AA encouraged road users to sign a petition against the proposed tolls online.
The petition, initiated on the 22nd February, accumulated more than 52 000 signatories, the names of which were listed in the petition submitted to the Ministers of Transport and Finance.
An accompanying letter, addressed to the Ministers, reiterated the AA’s policy that tolling should always be regarded as the last resort for road funding, and, that there should be an immediate return to a dedicated road fund which is ring-fenced and sourced from existing fuel taxes.
The AA has also called on the ministries to give full public disclosure on the full cost of the GFIP from inception, the appointment process of the toll collection agency and finally how the tax revenue from the sale of petroleum fuel for road use is being spent.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126