R4bn toll contract fury
Motorists will be paying through their noses to use Gauteng’s upgraded freeway system – but a large chunk of the proceeds will flow straight out of the country.
The Star has established that it will cost billions to collect the province’s tolls, and the work will be done by a mainly foreign-owned consortium.
The consortium has boasted on its website of the “handsome profits” it expects to make from running Gauteng’s freeways over the next eight years, while the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) last week caused fury among commuters with its announcement that ordinary citizens would be expected to pay as much as 66c/km in tolls.
A week after the announcement, the fury continues.
Thami Bolani, chairperson of the National Consumer Forum, said they would be issuing an open letter to the minister of transport today. The letter calls for the creation of a forum made up of companies and organisations that are likely to be affected by the new tolls, and to be part of a discussion around the high tariffs.
“What this is is anti-people; you are penalising people for using the roads,” he said.
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the union federation opposed the tolling system and that a company would be making huge profits from something that could have an adverse effect on the economy. “Roads are a public service, and not for anyone to make a profit from,” he said.
He added that Cosatu was concerned about the effects, in particular the higher inflation the toll was likely to cause.
Craven also said the federation was concerned that the tolls would cause greater congestion on alternative routes.
In 2009, Sanral handed out a contract for R1.16 billion to a consortium to run the electronic tolling (e-toll) system, which is part of the R20bn budget for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.
The Star has established that the cost of the contract has increased to R4.56bn.
The contract for the “implementation and operations” of the e-tolling system was awarded to the Electronic Toll Collection joint venture.
The Star has established that this deal involves a South African business, TMT Services and Supplies, and the Austrian-headquartered Kapsch TrafficCom AG.
At the time, TMT had 35 percent of the contract and Kapsch 65 percent.
Part of the e-toll contract was then subcontracted to South African IT business GijimaAst, a company that ended up in a legal wrangle with Home Affairs over an identity document contract.
Seven months after Sanral’s announcement of the tender award, Kapsch revealed it had increased its shares in TMT to 51.43 percent – which means the business is primarily foreign owned – and websites boasted about the profits from a R4.56bn contract.
Sanral CEO Nazir Alli confirmed the R3.4bn extra was fees to the consortium for operating the system for up to eight years.
Sanral, had not previously indicated that the total cost of the tender to build and operate the e-toll system, excluding the building of the gantries, was R4.56bn.
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