The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) today responded to a report by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on the costs of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). SANRAL alleged in its presentation that Outa’s report is filled with inaccuracies, and misrepresentations, and cannot be taken seriously.
While the issues raised by Outa, and the subsequent response by SANRAL, are important, and speak to significant matters of collusion, price fixing, and corruption, the Automobile Association (AA) believes this is not the most immediate and pressing concern to South African motorists, especially those in Gauteng who use the GFIP roads.
“We believe the matters raised by Outa relating to the costs of the GFIP must be brought swiftly to finality. However, we believe the more urgent issue for Gauteng motorists is a need to resolve the ongoing impasse regarding payment or non-payment of e-tolls, especially against the backdrop of SANRAL’s recent threats to issue summons to individuals and companies,” the AA said.
“While we acknowledge that the payment of e-tolls is legislated, we cannot ignore the fact that a significant number of Gauteng road users are not paying their e-toll accounts. We believe this issue will eventually end in court where a decision on the validity of the debts is made. This is what Gauteng motorists are concerned about now, and efforts to resolve this should be a priority for all concerned,” the AA noted.
The AA also noted that it maintains its position that reserving a dedicated portion of the fuel levy is still the best funding model for e-tolls, as the cost is not amplified by administration and collection costs.
“We have said this many times before: the funding of roads is not the issue. The real issue, we believe, is the mechanism chosen to fund the GFIP. Along with this, we believe SANRAL’s continued heavy-handed approach to motorists, are among the main reasons for the payment boycott we are currently experiencing. This issue needs to be resolved to provide Gauteng motorists with a way forward, which they deserve,” the Association concluded.