'Toll fees will hit commuters'

2011-02-14 16:17

Cape Town - Controversial new toll road fees for Gauteng, set to take effect in June, effectively “punish” people who drive to work, the National Consumer Forum (NCF) said on Monday.

The tolls would be unavoidable for most, NCF chairperson Thami Bolani said in a statement.

“In effect, the new toll charges being sprung on commuters are penalising those people who faithfully report to work each day to keep our economy going.

“It is completely unacceptable to slap such high tolls on city highways on which commuters are forced to travel each day.”

Bolani warned that the tolls would see drivers diverting onto back roads, creating traffic chaos.

“With the prices of basic items like petrol, food, municipal services and electricity already threatening to sink many households, tolls at this level will be an unbearable burden for most families.

“Imagine asking a single mother who earns R2 000 or R3 000 a month, and must travel from her home in Soweto to her job in Centurion every day, to come up with another few hundred rand in increased taxi fare,” he said.

In a country without a proper public transport system, such tolls were quite simply an abuse of consumers’ right to affordable services, he said.

In a separate statement on Monday, the Democratic Alliance in the province said small and medium businesses, and the general public, were going to be the “big losers” when the controversial new toll road tariffs were implemented.

“While estimates of the knock-on effect of the toll on transport costs run as high as 20%, one must never forget that the big losers in this whole equation are once again the small, medium and micro enterprises, and Joe Public,” said DA MPL Neil Campbell.

He said recent reports that the Gauteng toll system was to be run by a mainly foreign-owned consortium were hardly surprising.

“This government has long since lost any idea of the ramifications of its policies on the small-business person and the public, and often seeks out overseas companies rather than looking for local opportunities outside of their close cronies.”

Large corporations in the province would be able to recoup the tax part of the toll when they filed their VAT returns, and claim all the toll fees against tax when they filed their returns every year.

“The real problems will arise for the ordinary motorist or the small business person, who is either not allowed to claim the toll fees back from tax, or who is not a VAT registered vendor,” he said.

Gauteng’s roads and transport portfolio committee would be meeting the SA National Road Agency Ltd (Sanral) later this week, and would demand from them an explanation for the “lack of transparency and consultation” regarding the new fees.

“The battle of the toll roads is only just beginning,” Campbell said.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) on Monday said it was seeking a meeting with Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele on the toll tariffs.

“Busa accepts the need for effective road infrastructure funding and supports the principle of a toll road system, but there needs to be proper consultation to ensure that it does not exacerbate unemployment, or worsen the quality of life of poorer South Africans,” it said in a statement.

Gauteng generated a third of the country’s GDP, making the toll fees an issue of great national importance.

“It will raise the costs of doing business in South Africa even further beyond what could be considered competitive for a developing economy wanting to compete globally.

“Those who can least afford it will be hit the hardest. Busa has been unable to get a clear picture of the new tariffs structure and its implications for business, as Sanral indicated it was not in any position to disclose the necessary information,” it said.

Lobby group Afriforum said in a statement later on Monday that it had asked Sanral, in terms of the promotion of Access to Information Act, to reveal “all information used to calculate the new toll tariffs".

Afriforum said it wanted to have the information examined by experts in order to determine why the tariffs were “excessively” high.

In an announcement last week, Sanral said ordinary citizens would be expected to pay as much as 66c a kilometre in tolls.

  • Be Fair - 2011-02-14 17:09

    I think it is unfair of the government to impose additional stealth taxes on the economy withhout adjusting the current tax laws. Firstly, I pay my taxes and I am supposed to receive basic service offerings from government. This includes a well maintained infrastructure, security and healthcare to name but a few. Instead, I am paying my taxes, now the toll fees, monthly monitoring fees with a security company as well as medical aid. I am getting no reduction in my taxes for these items. I propose that these items become tax deductible, as I am sourcing providers for services which the government cannot deliver. Or, drop the tax rates by 5% - SA has one of the highest effective tax rates in the world when comparing taxes paid vs. service rendered. And then the new NHI is also on its way - let go of the RUBBER ARM!!!

  • mark - 2011-02-14 18:13

    When this gets inplemented ,then t least everyone must vote with their futture come 2013, stop letting this useless ANC run government once and 4 all,stand together, lets all remove our number plates so that they cannot chage you for using the roads, simple and easy to do, as the traffic department will never be able to stop eery car,lets all ride to work on scooters, or bicycles down the side lane ,then the cameras will not pick up anything to charge.

  • Freddy - 2011-02-14 19:52

    The economy is going to crash in big way. Why? The cost of living is going skyrocket faster than the speed of light. People will quit their jobs in order to work from home. Investments will be dumped. I still do not believe in figures supplied by STATS SA or the economists. I will not also believe in the forthcomming budeget speech either. Our tax money has been abused for far too long & our government wants more money to abuse. Toll fees will have a huge impact on the economy. "Cupid" is in recession and will not waste "arrows" on government that abuses taxpayers money.

  • Enough Already - 2011-02-14 20:42

    The tax we are paying is going no where. I have not seen many f our poor housed. Potholes and unmaintained roads are the order of the day. Our parks are a shambles. Now the ANC wants to mess with private health care and tax us to dealth with tolls. SARS have an open ticket to the pay now aruge latter sarga. Time to vote with your feet South Africa. Even if its for the Kiss party

  • TheOne - 2011-02-15 07:40

    The ANC has money for parties, name changes of PRISONS! and useless youth gatherings but don't have a cent for roads. Very weird that some lower IQ people still vote for a government who clearly are blind folding them. It is the racist whites, apartheid orcolonialism again I guess, but it is never the ANC! Never! What a joke to say that this is a better life for all - with higher expenses across the board.

  • Myremarks - 2011-02-15 08:54

    They have been erecting the tolls for a while and only now we comment. The best is that its been administered by a foreign business. Why are South Africans not capable. Look at what's happening north on our continent. Governments who have been in power to long are being evicted. Sadly the ANC still has another 20 more years of corruption and inefficiency.. When will the masses realise we need a new ruling party.

  • Shrek - 2011-02-15 11:15

    I can afford the toll fees, no problem. I terminated the services of my domestic worker (earning R1900 pm) and gardener (R500pm). I explained to my domestic why I terminated her service. I suggested that she contact Cosatu to sort out these tolls....I will then consider re-employing her. JZ, heres 2 more jobs for you to create.

  • Myth - 2011-05-22 23:17

    The use of overseas companies facilitates the transfer of funds into private shareholder companies/organisations/accounts (probably covered by middleman executives) registered in those oversea countries. No need to explain anything in SA as it all happens overseas after the legitimate transfer of funds to the overseas company. Just another money laundering scam; the high toll fees should have given it away.

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