Sanral’s fuel levy argument “stupid” – Outa
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) has responded to the arguments made by Vusi Mona, spokesman for the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), to justify e-tolling as a better source of revenue than a national fuel levy, at a special media event in the Western Cape.
According to Outa, Mona tried to rationalise Sanral’s tolling ambitions in the province. “In Mona’s attempt to talk down the fuel levy as a funding mechanism for road infrastructure, he was quoted as saying that about R42 billion was collected (annually) by the treasury from the national fuel levy. Sanral receives an allocation from that,” says Wayne Duvenage, Outa chairperson.
“While that is indeed so, he then went on to say that because the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) cost R20 billion, it would be unfair to the rest of the country if 50 percent of the fuel levy was spent in Gauteng. No one has ever said, or expected, that the entire cost of the GFIP should be paid for in a single year,” adds Duvenage.
According to Outa, both Mona and Nazir Alli, Sanral CEO, have said that revenue from designated fuel levies are declining worldwide, because of improved engine technology and fuel efficiency.
John Clarke, Outa spokesperson, responds: “In the past three years since the completion of the GFIP, treasury has increased the fuel levy by 31 percent to R2,34 per litre, thereby accumulating another R12 billion per annum into government coffers. This is enough to effectively finance five new Freeway Improvement Projects of R20 billion each, without the need for added costs of e-toll collections. Sanral is not helping to advance the policy debate by such ridiculous arguments. To call them simplistic is too dignifying. They are just plain stupid.”
Outa recently received information from a reliable, confidential source close to the system that has confirmed speculation that Sanral’s ambition was always to extend e-tolling throughout the country.
“We have learned that the Midrand Central Operations Centre was planned and built to cater for thousands of kilometres of roads, not just the 187 kilometres of the GFIP. It now ranks as the second largest storage array in the southern hemisphere,” says Clarke.
“This completely contradicts Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett’s recent argument, in the Cape High Court, that the type of e-tolling facilitated by the collection method envisaged by the amendment bill is, and remains, highly unusual. It is only appropriate in very confined circumstances. Mr Alli has yet to explain the contradiction between what his counsel argued in court, and the clear intention to take e-tolling way beyond the confines of Gauteng,” says Clarke.