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E-tolls cheaper than fuel levy: expert

Johannesburg - A leading economist has claimed that the cost of the controversial Gauteng e-tolls with the latest tariffs will now be cheaper than an additional fuel levy of 13 cents a litre.

Mike Schussler, of Economists.co.za, was asked by the Road Freight Association (RFA) to calculate what the cost of the fuel levy would be to the economy and operators, in a year, with the revised tariffs.

This Sanral sign near Fourways encourages drivers to buy e-tags. Picture: Karen Sandison. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

The road freight industry has run trials with operators to determine provisional costs by selecting trips where kilometres on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project had been verified. The results confirmed that the trucks were not travelling as much on the e-toll roads as was previously expected. Schussler estimated that a 13c/litre fuel levy will cost the industry about R700 million a year, compared with R400m via e-tolls plus possible administration costs.

 Even with the additional administration of e-tolls, the RFA research claimed, it would be cheaper for an operator to pay for the tolls rather than a fuel levy. On a cumulative average, 86 percent of vehicles would pay less than R300 a month and only 4.7 percent of motorists would pay more than R550 a month. On average, 77.1 percent of truckers would also pay less than R300 a month.

But the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa)’s Wayne Duvenage yesterday reiterated that the tolling methodology would cost billions of rand over 20 years.

The Automobile Association’s Gary Ronald said it was the most expensive way of collecting money.

This week, government and Sanral officials were heckled at public hearings held to justify the e-tolls prior to its proposed implementation in December.

A judicial review will be heard on November 26.

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