By Anele ka Nene

Toll fees on South African national roads will increase from Saturday, the SA National Road Agency announced on Friday.

The agency said in a statement the increase would be 8,4 percent on toll gates that it operated and approximately 15 percent on plazas run by private companies.

The agency owns about 55 toll plazas in the country but operates only 27. The rest are run by the N3 Toll Concessions, Trans-African Concessions and Bakwena Platinum Concessions.

It said the price hike would apply to 18 toll gates on the N1 highway, 14 on the N2, 10 on the N3, eight on the N4 and five on the N17.

The N3 Toll Concession, which manages the N3 highway between Heidelberg and Cedara, said toll gates that would see the highest tariffs were at De Hoek, Wilge and Tugela.

Spokesperson Con Roux said drivers of light motor vehicles would pay R29 at the Wilge toll gate from Saturday, R30 at Tugela and R21 at De Hoek plazas.

A class 4 heavy vehicle driver would pay R94 at the Wilge plaza from next month, R111 at Tugela and R70 at De Hoek plazas.

Roux said the increases were in line with the company's contractual formula based on the consumer price index.

The N3 Toll Concessions was awarded a 30-year concession contract for the toll route six years ago. Proceeds from toll fees were largely used for debt repayment and for maintaining and upgrading the route.

Other N3 toll plazas where fees would increase were Mariannhill, Bergville, Mooi River, and Treverton.

Trans-African Concessions, which operates plazas in the Maputo Corridor on the N4, said the toll gates that would see higher tariffs were at Middelburg, Machadodorp and Nkomazi.

Chief executive Trevor Jackson said drivers of a light motor vehicle would pay R27 at the Middelburg plaza from Saturday compared with the current R23.

The corresponding figures at the Machadodorp gate were R40 and R34 and at Nkomazi R30 and R26.

A class 4 heavy vehicle driver would pay R115 at the Middelburg plaza from next month compared with the current R100. At Machadodorp, the corresponding figures were R229 and R200, and R127 and R111 at Nkomazi.

Jackson said his company hiked the fees, by using a formula that he said worked in favour of motorists.

"When there was an expectation of an inflation being of the order of seven or eight percent, the increases were in fact three, six and 4.5 percent," he said.

"So motorists had that benefit and now the formula has caught up so there is much bigger increase this year."

Jackson said the money collected would be used for debt repayment and for maintaining and upgrading the route.

"Our concession contract with the governments of Mozambique and South Africa has a clause limiting profits made from tariff collection."

He said his company would not raise fees at toll gates in Mozambique.

The N1 highway toll plazas that were expecting an increase on Saturday were the Huguenot, Vaal, Grasmere, Carousel, Wallmanstall, Murrayhill, Hammanskraal, Maubane, Pumalani, Zambesi, Stromvoel, Kranskop, Nyl, Sebetiela, and Capricorn.

The N2 freeway toll gates expecting higher tariffs on Saturday were Tsitsikamma, Umtentweni, Tongaat, Mvoti, Mtunzini, Mandini, Dokodweni, Oribi, and Izotsha. - Sapa