Chamber not happy with Sanral toll briefing | Fin24
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Chamber not happy with Sanral toll briefing

Jul 17 2015 11:26
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The benefits of the proposed N1 and N2 Winelands toll road improvement project far outweigh the cost to road-users, Nazir Alli, CEO of the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) told members of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry this week.

Alli emphasised that, while the initial bid was unsolicited, Sanral went through a rigorous and competitive tender process to get to a stage where there is a preferred bidder.

“But the process is far from concluded, and the final costing still has to be determined. While the City of Cape Town in the past was at pains to point out what it would cost road users to travel on the planned toll roads, tariffs had not been set and whatever numbers are bandied about are pure speculation,” said Alli.

The minister of transport will set the final toll tariffs, he said.
Alli pointed out that the "user pay" principle for tolled roads was firmly entrenched as part of Government policy.

READ: Gloves off in Winelands toll saga

Kobus van der Walt, Sanral’s regional manager in the Western Cape, said the roads agency supported the City of Cape Town’s drive towards public transport, but an efficient system does not yet exist.

In the meantime the freeways will have to provide this service.

“Traffic flows in and out of the city will be vastly improved over sections as there will be three lanes instead of the current two on the N1 and N2, in both directions. The new planned interchanges will help to ease traffic congestion at on and off ramps along the freeways, and Sanral has offered to assist the City and the Western Cape Government to repair the surfaces of some secondary roads affected by traffic deviating around toll plazas,” said Van der Walt.

Alli pointed out that the allocation from Government to Sanral is for the maintenance and improvements of non-tolled roads only and cannot be used for tolled roads.

“Financing of the N1 and N2 upgrades and subsequent maintenance can only be done through tolling as these are now declared toll roads,” he explained.

He added that it was clear that there was a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about the proposed N1 and N2 Winelands improvement project.

He said Sanral committed itself to continue the engagements with stakeholders and members of the business community were welcome to contact the offices of Sanral in Bellville to clarify any aspects of the proposed N1 and N2 toll road improvement project.

READ: Sanral: Cape Town jumping the toll gun

Chamber disappointed

Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber, told Fin24 that members were extremely disappointed with the Sanral presentation as it did not deal with the contentious issues and the concerns of both business and residents of Cape Town.

In addition there was too little opportunity to ask questions and engage the Sanral officials in a meaningful way.

“For instance, we would have liked to know why Sanral continues to charge toll fees long after projects like the Huguenot Tunnel had been paid for. This is not the user-pays principle as the users have already paid for the tunnel and continuing and increasing toll fees have become an unfair form of taxation,” said Myburgh.

Sanral dismissed the idea of a fuel levy as impractical because it would entail visiting every garage for the information.

“If we had a better opportunity to engage with Sanral we could have pointed out that the oil companies have figures for every magisterial district and that it would be easy to access the information,” said Myburgh.

“What this really told us was that Sanral had never looked seriously at the fuel levy option as even the most basic research would have revealed it as a practical and cheap-to-collect alternative to toll fees.”

Myburgh said chamber members had many more concerns and would like to discuss these with Sanral.

“Being talked at by Sanral is not a form of public consultation and we need a two-way discussion if we are to make progress,” said Myburgh.

ALSO READ: Tunnel not reason for W Cape tolls - chamber



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