File photo: Reuters

Johannesburg - The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) could plan more toll roads if the benefits to road users around the country from upgrading national roads outweighed their travelling costs.

Sanral’s western region told the media yesterday that not many roads were feasible for tolling because of insufficient traffic use.

But the agency said traffic was not the only aspect to determine the need for tolling.

It would look at the benefits of toll roads for different freeways and if those benefits were substantial, tolling could be an option.

These benefits included travel times, vehicle operating costs and safety components.

Tiago Massingue, Sanral’s western region engineering manager, said the benefits would have to be quantified first before Sanral talked about raising capital to upgrade the untolled roads to toll roads.

“We have to quantify all the benefits that the road user is going to accrue by using a toll road… We will not toll any road if there are no benefits associated with it,” he said.

While traffic determined the feasibility of future toll roads, it also dictated the kind of toll system that would be put in place.

For instance, Massingue said, it the proposed N1/N2 Winelands toll highway project in the Western Cape went ahead it was likely to have boom gates and not e-tolls. About 180km of highway in the province would be tolled should the project go ahead.

The e-toll system was introduced in Gauteng because the large number of vehicles that used the province’s highways made it impractical to use the boom gates.

In the next week or two, Sanral is planning another media engagement on its tolling plans. The Western Cape will have to wait for that engagement to hear if its proposed toll roads will go ahead.

At the moment, only 175km of Western Cape roads are tolled. - Business Report