OUTA calls for independent tolls enquiry
The Sunday Times report on 25 November 2012 reveals a veil of questionable practices within the South African tolling industry, which hints at the need for a much broader and deeper examination into all tolling per se, than just the current focus on Gauteng’s e-toll plans.
The South African road users have for some time queried the high costs of toll charges on most tolled routes. It appears there is reason to question the apparent predatory pricing of an industry that seems to favour certain suppliers/insiders and is reluctant to report transparently on its costs and revenues.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) goes to court this week to expose the lack of appropriate consultation and disclosure by SANRAL and its consorts, when planning the implementation of Gauteng’s e-tolls. The growing voice of opposition to the e-toll as a funding method, now extends well beyond OUTA, COSATU and other bodies who have been outspoken on the matter. This was clearly demonstrated by the public during the recent information sessions held by Government in Gauteng, which SANRAL simply cannot ignore when it reports back to the minister on these engagements.
OUTA remains perplexed that both SANRAL and Government choose to continually ignore the clear message of rejection supported by the overwhelming arguments highlighting the inefficiency and high costs of the current e-toll proposal, which may ultimately run the risk of creating further uncertainties and credit re-ratings. Indeed SANRAL has blamed the court action for past negative re-ratings, never once looking inward as to why they were in court in the first place. The escalation of anti-etoll protests, in the current environment, will most certainly aggravate the already poor impression of South Africa amongst international media and investors.
“While again we call for the IMC (Inter Ministerial Committee) to make public their recommendations to the Cabinet, given the Sunday Times revelations, OUTA would support an independent commission of inquiry into all tolling concessions and contracts issued by SANRAL, to ensure the South African motorist has not been unnecessarily overcharged” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s chairperson.
Of concern are the few court judgements against SANRAL over the past few years, the most recent being in August this year when Judge Vahed in the KZN High Court ruled that SANRAL’s awarding of the N2 South Coast toll concession to Tolcon Lehumo was set aside. All appears not to be as ‘squeaky clean’ as SANRAL make themselves out to be and their credibility throughout the Gauteng e-toll saga has indeed been questionable.
OUTA looks forward to presenting its case in court this week and continues to appreciate all financial contributions towards OUTA’s legal costs.