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Johannesburg - Shoprite Checkers is considering applying for e-toll exemption, saying its additional distribution costs caused by the SA National Roads Agency’s controversial tolls on Gauteng roads could cause food prices to rise.
At a presentation of Shoprite Checkers’ interim results for the six months ending in December last year, the retailer said calculations showed the e-toll fees would add about R4 million to distribution costs each year.
The company operates 529 food distribution trucks, which travel 140 000km a day on average.
Group spokeswoman Sarita van Wyk said: “Shoprite will obviously try to absorb the additional expense for as long as possible.”
“But it will not be feasible to absorb the impact on retail prices in the long run.”
“While we support public-transport exemptions for buses and minibus taxis as a means to support the workforce of this country, it is our contention that our food-distribution vehicles should not be subjected to additional costs because of the impact on the price of basic food for the country’s most vulnerable consumers.
“We are thus considering making representations to the South African National Roads Agency for exemption from e-tolls.”
Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said he could not pre-empt an application and that exemptions were granted by the transport department.
ON WHAT GROUNDS?
Justice Project SA’s vocal anti-e-toll advocate, Howard Dembovsky, doubted Shoprite Checkers would be successful in its application.
“I can’t see on what grounds they would have the legal right to make an application for exemption.”
Currently, police and defence force vehicles, metro police vehicles, emergency vehicles and qualifying public transport vehicles are exempt.
DA premier candidate for Gauteng Mmusi Maimane said: “This information reveals the true cost of e-tolling - the fact that the system impacts everybody, whether they are road users or not.
“If this is the impact of tolling on one of the biggest produce suppliers in the country, it is likely that many others, both big and small, will also be forced to increase expenses across the board.”