Gauteng Finance MEC Barbara Creecy yesterday announced the allocation of R123 million to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) as part of her medium-term policy statement.
The Automobile Association (AA) said the allocation completely takes the users of the system out of the picture and places the burden of funding on all taxpayers in the province, regardless of GFIP usage or even car ownership.
Making a 50% contribution towards the shortfall in funding for the e-tolling system, to the value of R123 million, completely nullifies the argument that it is a “user pays” system and contradicts government’s refusal to consider more reasonable alternative funding models for the system. The AA further believes the allocation is a clear indication from government that the system is now, and will continue to remain, unpopular, and unsupported, among Gauteng motorists.
“SANRAL’s argument for the e-toll system throughout has been that this is a user pays system, which relieves all other road users from the burden of cost. This allocation nullifies this argument as there will be many thousands of Gauteng residents who don’t use the GFIP system but who will, indirectly through their taxes, be funding it,” the Association noted.
“Our view, as it has been since the outset, is that a portion of the fuel levy must be ring-fenced to fund the GFIP. We support initiatives to improve roads in all provinces but funding these improvements through e-tolls is not the answer, as the unnecessary administrative costs place an extra burden on the already over stretched motorists, and the South African taxpayer,” added the Association.
Providing this shortfall funding is also an admission from government that the system is not working as so many motorists in Gauteng simply boycott the system, despite being offered reduced rates as incentives to do so.
This allocation puts to rest any argument over whether this system is being supported or not. Having to fund such a large amount to cover a shortfall is perhaps the strongest indication yet that it is not. If everyone was paying their e-tolls, this allocation wouldn’t be needed,” the Association noted.