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Sanral's Cape toll tariff shocker

Mar 30 2015 16:06
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it was shocked to learn that the Winelands toll fees would be nearly three times higher than Gauteng's e-tolls.

It was, furthermore, amazed at what it calls the one-sided nature of the South African National Roads Agency's (Sanral’s) commitment to compensate the tolls contractor for any shortfall in toll fees.

On Monday morning the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein ruled in favour of the City of Cape Town and set aside the order made by the Western Cape High Court in August 2014 concerning Sanral’s secrecy application.

The chamber congratulated the City on its successful battle to reveal the secrets behind the Sanral deal with the company it has contracted to build and manage the N1 and N2 toll roads.

“This is a victory for transparency and the public of the Western Cape are indebted to the council for the determined way it pursued this case in the public interest,” said Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber.

She said the chamber was shocked by the one-sided nature of the contract and Sanral’s commitment to compensate the Protea Parkway Consortium (PPC) - Sanral's preferred bidder - for any shortfall in toll fees.

In addition, the toll fees would be nearly three times as high as Gauteng's e-tolls and in her view there was sure to be massive resistance from motorists and the road transport industry.

READ: Cape Town discloses Sanral's tolling secrets

Public consultation process a 'sham'

The City disclosed on Monday that PPC's anticipated toll revenue over the concession period - at 2010 values and excluding VAT - is in the region of R48bn.

The City also disclosed that the decision to declare the Winelands toll roads was taken by Sanral CEO Nazir Alli and not by the Sanral board, as is required by the Sanral Act.

“These secrets reveal that the whole public consultation process was a sham as no meaningful comment was possible without the knowledge we now have,” said Myburgh.

“We have pointed out before that not a single institution in the Western Cape supported the tolling of these roads, but all objections were swept away allowing the views to the consortium and Sanral to prevail. Now we know that the consortium expected revenue of R48bn over the course of the concession.”

READ: Court to hear Sanral's Winelands secrecy bid

The City revealed that Sanral failed to disclose the grave consequences of the reimbursement clause in its concession contract with PPC to the Sanral board and the transport minister.

"The contract addresses the risk that the minister may determine lower toll tariffs than the concessionaire is entitled to charge under the concession contract, or may refuse or delay approving a change in the toll tariffs," said the City in a statement.

Peter Hugo, chair of the chamber’s transport portfolio committee, said if Sanral and the consortium had their way it would result in considerable economic damage to the Cape.

“The toll fees are very high and they will add significantly to the cost of every container of fruit and wine we export,” said Hugo.

He said the chamber already has a problem with Sanral and the way it increases tariffs every year even for projects like the Huguenot tunnel, which has already been paid for.

“I am amazed that Sanral really thought they could get away with this. Did they learn nothing from the Gauteng e-tolls disaster?”

ALSO READ: Makhura promises better scheme for tolls

sanral  |  western cape  |  sa economy  |  tolls
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