The expansion of Gauteng’s freeways with more electronic tolls has been delayed even as a new tariff regime meant to offer certainty to the project is being implemented.
In its annual report, the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says new phases of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) remain on hold until a funding model can be finalised, indicating that the dispensation unveiled by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in May was not enough to sustain improvements.
The delays are also happening despite Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu having said in the annual report that the new e-toll dispensation had removed uncertainty over tolling and ensured that the project would continue.
Yesterday, Sanral GM for communications Vusi Mona said the reduced e-toll tariffs had resulted in “higher attraction” to the upgraded freeways and there was now a need for new freeways to be constructed earlier than anticipated.
However, phases two and three of the improvement project could not begin without finalising a sustainable funding model, he said.
Compliance with e-tolls had improved since the new dispensation and fluctuated between 30% and 40%. But compliance was not yet at the levels seen before July last year when Gauteng Premier David Makhura set up a panel to review the socioeconomic effects of e-tolls. The review created uncertainty about the user-pay system, reducing compliance and deterring investors from Sanral bonds, said Mr Mona.
Projections had shown that congestion on the upgraded freeways would be similar to previous levels until 2017-18, but reduced fees had accelerated the increased use of the upgraded roads and made further tolled highways necessary.
“Discussion of tolling in Gauteng and other road financing options should not only focus on the existing GFIP phase,” he said.
source Business Day