SANRAL rating downgrade – concerned but not surprised!
SANRAL's inability to launch e-tolling on five attempts over the past three years, has highlighted the serious nature of the myriad of issues at stake for this most ambitious plan. Indeed it is the biggest of its kind in the world and is simply too big to manage in an environment of weak enforcement and administrative cumbersomeness, which in turn will be met with severe levels of non-compliance and unworkability.
While both SANRAL and Government duck and dive behind a possible further delay, due to technicalities within the constitutional tagging framework, the actual decision to be made is that of going back to the drawing board and scraping the current unworkable e-toll model. What is required is a more equitable and efficient funding model with the support of all stakeholders, including society, to enable payment of freeway upgrade and SANRAL’s credit ratings back on track again.
“We have wasted several years on this problem now and any further delay will only cause further financial hemorrhages for SANRAL and merely delays the ultimate collapse of the e-toll system” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA's chairman.
Clearly, Moody's are tracking these developments and they have been exposed to a poorly managed project by organisation that refuses to see the real problem they are faced with – being its collapse. Moody's views might even be heightened when observing SANRAL's strategy to throw money at the problem, by tripling their marketing budget (to over R85m pa) for the introduction of a failed advertising campaign that has run for several months and produced virtually no improvement to their dismal e-tag sales, nor has it produced a change of heart by society toward their scheme.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) trusts the Moody's downgrade will send another strong message to SANRAL and more so their shareholders, the Department of Transport, who may now be pressed to find a more equitable and efficient funding solution to the problem. OUTA believes that SANRAL, the architects of the failed e-toll system, are too close to it and have probably become the spanner in the works. As the late American labour leader Tyree Scott once said, "You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of finding the solution".