WHEN THINGS DON’T ADD UP, FOLLOW THE MONEY
The SA National Roads Agency (SANRAL) has ignored a request by OUTA for information, this time regarding the contract between SANRAL and one of its three national toll-road concessionaires, N3TC. So, we have had to resort to a formal request for this information, using the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
OUTA also wrote to the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, asking him to instruct SANRAL to provide us the information we are seeking. As Advocate Stefanie Fick, Head of our Accountability Division, explains: “We believe that the contracts with long-distance road-tolling concessionaire companies must be transparent and their books opened to the public. Why? Because we believe there is a possibility that concessionaires could be benefiting from excessive profits, part of which may require credit to the road users in reduced toll fees or returns to SANRAL.”
OUTA believes the public should also know what the projected concessionaire profits look like for the remaining years of the contract, including what road users can expect to receive in the way of lowered toll rates or revenue returns to SANRAL.
“The annual returns SANRAL has been receiving from its three concessionaires, including N3TC, has been minimal and remained unchanged for many years. This suggests that little is being done in the annual evaluation of the concessionaire profits, leaving us with a suspicion that the public may not be receiving a fair share of returns from these contracts. During the past 10 years, the toll tariffs charged by the concessionaires have increased by about 80%, yet SANRAL has received a fixed amount. Something doesn’t add up.”
OUTA believes the public has a vested interest in this matter, and the right to the information sought from SANRAL.
Having exhausted all internal procedures in requesting the information, we had no choice but to turn to the court and lodge a formal PAIA review application for information that belongs to the public.
The application was lodged in July and we are in the process of requesting similar information from the other two concessionaires.