“OUTA has consistently stated that the seamless fuel levy which attracts no administration costs, is an existing user pays policy and mechanism best suited to fund urban freeway upgrades. The sad reality is that the Gauteng freeway upgrade would have been paid off by now, if nine cents of the national fuel levy had been allocated to this from the onset of the project,” says Ben Theron, OUTA’s Transport Portfolio Director.
Macozoma’s statement also stated that SANRAL will be “exploring progressive strategies to pursue partnerships with the private sector and civil society to ensure successful national road infrastructure development over the medium to long term.”
This is a welcome departure from the approach taken by Mr Nazir Alli, SANRAL’s former CEO, who chose to adopt a less inclusive and adversarial approach, one which has given rise to a stand-off between society and the state on the Gauteng e-toll situation. This stance has also affected relationships between the state and other communities affected by toll routes, such as the Western Cape, Wild Coast, Harrismith, Waterval Boven, Swartruggens, Pretoria North / Stormvoël area and many others over the years.
“We agree with the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee that roads are critical for our nation’s infrastructural growth, but OUTA still maintains that there needs to be a better approach with the decisions on financing social infrastructure. Urban freeways are used on a daily basis to get to work, schools and places of worship. Accordingly, we believe these are best financed with general taxation and fuel levies, which is a position also supported by the Presidential Committee recently commissioned to review state owned entities,” says Ben Theron, OUTA’s Transport Portfolio Director.
“Tolling schemes for long distance economic corridors make sense, but not when these are applied to daily commuter routes such as the Gauteng Freeway network. After three years of operation, there can be no doubt that Gauteng’s e-toll scheme has failed to deliver the efficiency required of a user pays funding mechanism. Compliance levels are now below 20% and the time has arrived for Government and SANRAL to scrap the defunct scheme.”
OUTA looks forward to engaging with Mr Macozoma and to play a meaningful role in restoring this once respected national brand to its former glory. We will gladly participate in transparent decision making which is conducted through meaningful public participation, on matters that have the best interests of the public at the core of their intended outcome.