Savrala decries R4.7bn admin cost of tolls

By roy cokayne Time of article published Mar 30, 2011

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The R4.7 billion in operational costs over eight years for the open road tolling (ORT) system on Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) highways could largely be saved by using the fuel levy mechanism.

This is the view of the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (Savrala), the representative body of more than 450 000 cars on the country’s roads. Savrala has declared a dispute regarding the payment terms proposed by the SA National Road Agency Limited (Sanral).

Linda Kotze, Savrala’s president, said the toll plan’s eTag model also placed significant administration costs on businesses, which would have to be passed on to customers.

Kotze said Savrala estimated an average car rental customer might have to pay an extra R32 a day in tolls, representing 10 percent of the average daily car rental rate. Leasing customers could expect a rise of up to 33 percent in their costs in cents per kilometre.

Savrala highlighted the significant open road tolling administration costs required compared with the fuel levy during a presentation to the ORT steering committee public consultations in Midrand.

Kotze said Savrala welcomed the new road and interchange upgrades but was “very concerned about ORT’s direct and secondary (administration) costs” associated with the management of tags, moving cars between locations and the necessary back office systems needed to support billing and customer queries.

However, Nazir Alli, Sanral’s chief executive, said earlier this month that the road maintenance levy in the fuel price would have to be increased by R1.60 a litre if it was to be used to pay for the GFIP.

This meant motorists outside Gauteng who did not receive any benefit from the project would also have to pay. He said using the fuel levy to pay for the GFIP would have resulted in fewer jobs being created.

Kotze said Savrala was concerned at both the lack of transparency surrounding the Sanral ORT funding model and the absence of an appropriate platform for associations to engage effectively with the national Transport Department.

Kotze said the economic loss equal to more than 3 percent of gross domestic product caused by accidents had to be reversed and Savrala had called for “urgent real road safety enforcement by all stakeholders”.

She said the estimated 300 000 unregistered cars on the roads also presented an opportunity for increased licence fees and Savrala had proposed the reintroduction of compulsory third party insurance as one of several tools to change driver behaviour.

Kotze said Sanral had demanded toll transactions for key account holders be settled within seven days, failing which interest would be levied on outstanding balances.

Savrala had received a mandate from its members calling for the generally accepted business terms of 30 days. - Roy Cokayne

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