On 21 October, Minister Dipuo Peters opened the Umgeni R512 Freeway interchange in KwaZulu Natal, citing Sanral’s plans to pump R37 billion into this region’s road networks, and stating that tolling would not be introduced as a funding mechanism.
While funding such important economic infrastructure with general taxes and fuel levy mechanism is a positive move by government, one has to ask why some provinces – such as KwaZulu Natal – are spared the ‘Sanral Slap’ of tolling to fund these planned road developments, whilst Sanral appears to be discriminating against Gauteng and the Western Cape by tolling their urban and peri-urban routes. Could it be that political forces are driving a more favourable treatment towards the KZN over other provinces?
“It is this inconsistency in Sanral’s decisions, which raises questions about the rationale of a number of their actions,” says Wayne Duvenage. Chairman of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance. “We are receiving many questions and concerns linked to past tolling decisions taken across the country by Sanral, in addition to their reversal of a prior requirement for well maintained alternative roads along tolled routes, their unsolicited bidding mechanism and their ever escalating toll tariffs, despite the fact that capital costs of many freeway projects have been paid off. This practice certainly contradicts their interpretation of a User-Pay’s scheme. Instead, it is OUTA’s opinion that Sanral’s toll network has become a ‘User Grossly Overpays’ scheme.”
“E-Tolls have already collapsed due to widespread civil courage to ignore the unjust policy,” says Duvenage, “however, government would be wise to act fast and with caution, to pro-actively deal with a potential spill-over of the ‘#FeesMustFall’ campaign, into a #TollsMustFall drive against Sanral’s entire toll plaza network.
More recently, we have seen a noticeable increase in the ire of residents in the East of Pretoria (Stormvoel) and other areas such as Waterval Boven, Swartruggens, KZN South Coast and Hillcrest who’s businesses and daily commutes have been negatively impacted by toll plazas erected in their areas. We believe that citizens in these areas will begin to exercise their rights to challenge some of these decisions, many of which have Sanral’s failure to adhere to Section 195 of the Constitution.