/ 1 November 2011

Tolls remain suspended pending consultations

Tolls Remain Suspended Pending Consultations

Planned tolling of roads in the country remains suspended, the transport ministry said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso said the suspension included the planned phase two of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), the Cape Winelands and the Wild Coast.

“With regard to GFIP, it is important to note that there’s a clear distinction or separation between phase one [almost completed] and phase two [yet to begin],” he said.

“The GFIP phase one is almost complete and we would like to hear alternative views from the public on the best possible model of financing the debt incurred.”

The outcome of the public hearing would be guided on how best to service the cost of phase one.

“It is not only objections that we received — there are also proposals on how best to service the cost,” Rikotso said.

“We cannot say, ‘come February we go live’, we will be guided by the outcome of the consultation process.”

He said Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele’s suspension instruction meant GFIP phase two would not begin until all consultative processes had been exhausted.

Prioritise resolution
Ndebele ordered a halt to all road project processes related to the tolling of national roads on October 23.

Rikhotso said Cabinet had already made pronouncements on GFIP phase one when it released revised fees which included major discounts for regular users and total exemptions for public transport vehicles.

Cabinet agreed that light motor vehicles would pay 40c/km, medium vehicles R1/km, “longer” vehicles R2/km and bikers’ 24c/km.

Qualifying commuter taxis and buses would be exempted entirely.

Rikhotso said Ndebele would request the incoming board of directors of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to prioritise the resolution of the financing model regarding the cost of GFIP phase 1 amounting to R20-billion.

This would complement other processes currently underway like the ministerial task team and the planned public consultative processes in Gauteng.

Gauteng public hearings would be held from November 11.

He said the ministry was calling on all parties concerned to take advantage of the planned consultative processes to share with government their views on how to fund better road infrastructure without hurting consumers’ pockets.

“The minister believes that while we require good road infrastructure to support the country’s growth and development initiatives, this shouldn’t leave a heavy financial burden on the shoulders of the consumer,” Rikhotso said. — Sapa