An e-toll outlet in the Irene Village Mall. Sanral says it's a normal business practice to adjust forecasts frequently. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Johannesburg - The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has been accused of fiddling with its e-toll revenue forecasts to reflect its achievements to be ahead of target.

Wayne Duvenage, the chairman of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), said yesterday that following release of the latest e-toll revenue data, the alliance was amused to see how Sanral had manipulated their forecasts, even historical forecasts, to make “their dismal performance appear to be on track”.

“This farcical behaviour is pushing the ability to manipulate the numbers to another level. Once again, we see the clear signs of misleading behaviour and propaganda by this once respected state-owned entity that treats the public as fools and expects to get away with it,” he said.

However, Inge Mulder, Sanral’s chief financial officer, yesterday defended Sanral’s actions, stressing that forecasts were adjusted frequently in line with normal business processes and practice to provide the most realistic projection of the future because information that influenced these forecasts changed.

Mulder said the Reserve Bank adjusted its forecast of the growth rate on a monthly basis based on the most recent trends and its view of the future and Sanral also reviewed and adjusted its forecasts on a monthly basis.

No increase

Statistics released on Monday showed that e-toll collections for May and June were higher than for the preceding seven months, with payments totalling R76 million in May and R78m in June after ranging between R45m in January and R68m in March.

Duvenage said e-toll revenues did not increase in May and June this year but were 35 percent lower than in the corresponding months last year. “The fact that June 2015 revenues are literally the same as in May after the new dispensation is an indication there has been no take-up of government’s new offers and clearly the public are not being fooled by the so-called discounts and continue to defy the unjust scheme,” he said.

Duvenage said Sanral claimed in court in 2012 it would achieve its forecast of an average of R260m a month from the Gauteng e-tolls project, but realised a few months after the scheme’s launch they were far off the mark and “duly lowered their forecast to reflect actual performances as being on song”.

By mid-2014 less than half the road users were only contributing a maximum of R120m a month in e-toll revenue, 55 percent off Sanral’s desired R260m, he said.

Duvenage said the scheme was between 43 percent and 59 percent below Sanral’s lower revised target for October, November and December last year and in May this year Sanral revised their targets even lower “in a vain attempt to paint a pretty picture once again”.

“But not only did they revise the forecast going forward, they changed their historical forecasts in May 2015 as far back as October 2014,” he said.

Mulder said Sanral adjusted its forecast for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) in October 2014 after the trends indicated the announcement of the advisory panel had a significant impact on cash receipts.

“Once the new dispensation was announced in May, we again adjusted our forecasts for GFIP, as this provided a new scenario of the projected future.

“These changes on the forecasts were clearly communicated and the adjusted dates were highlighted in the various communications,” she said.

BUSINESS REPORT