On the back of increases to the general fuel levy and Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy coming in April, motorists now also have to contend with increases to toll rates announced by the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), on Friday. It’s a move the Automobile Association (AA) said is yet another financial blow to South African consumers, and will place even more pressure on already cash-strapped motorists, commuters, and consumers.
Some SANRAL users (not all) received notification of the increases via e-mail on Friday, the day of the adjustments. Actual increase values were not included in the communication, nor was there any justification of why the increases were being made. The new tariff prices also do not provide any historical data of the prices, and their increases over a period of time. SANRAL’s only justification was that the adjustments were published in the Government Gazette on 16 February.
“SANRAL has again missed an opportunity to engage meaningfully with the public on this topic. We warned last year that SANRAL must try and win support from the public, but it seems its attitude to motorists remains arrogant and uncaring. We will not be surprised if, given this attitude, and the prevailing economic situation in South Africa, more motorists decide not to pay their tolls. SANRAL would do well to remember it is a service provider to their customers, the motorists of South Africa, and yet its attitude conveys the opposite message,” the AA noted.
The published increases cover tolls across South Africa, including the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), where payment rates remain low.
“In April the general fuel levy increases by 30 cents, and the RAF levy increases by nine cents. This means that motorists across South Africa will be paying R4.78, or 35%, to taxes for every litre of petrol they put in their vehicles. With these increases to toll rates, motorists are again being squeezed at every opportunity, a situation that simply cannot continue,” the AA said.
The Association noted that is has for a long time called for toll fees to be replaced with a ring-fenced amount as part of the general fuel levy so that motorists aren’t paying tax twice for the use of public roads. It is making the call again in light of this year’s adjustments to the fuel levy and tolls.
As it did last year, the AA is also informing the public of the toll increases as it appears SANRAL has not communicated them to all users. In fact, the last press release on SANRAL’s website dates from 17 February, a day after the Government Gazette published the new tariffs, yet there is no press information on the tariff increases, nor any information on the tariff increases, on any of their social media platforms over this period.
“While these increases seem to be simply business as usual for SANRAL, this is clearly not the case for the beleaguered South African consumer,” the AA concluded.
For illustrative purposes, below is a breakdown of current, historic rates, as well as the financial impact for a day trip, on the GFIP from Soweto to Pretoria. This trip will cost the consumer an additional six percent in tolls from 3 March 2017 compared to February 2017.