An exhausted Sanral has almost reached the end of the road with e-tolls, admitting it has all but lost the revenue battle, with just a third of the money owed being paid by motorists.
It believes government needs to come up with an acceptable roads funding mechanism. They will even accept a fuel levy, something they have always vigorously opposed. All they want to do is have enough money to build and maintain roads.
Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) manager Alex van Niekerk said the e-toll situation was “not in a favourable state at the moment”.
He added Sanral required “clear direction in funding policies”.
“Whatever government indicates to Sanral on which funding model should be used, it will be implemented,” he said.
With the experience of nonpayment as a background, Van Niekerk admitted that “fiscus funding” from government would be “the best situation” for Sanral, but this wasn’t viable.
“National Treasury was also very clear in the lead-up to this project that they don’t have the funds.
“They have sufficient money to maintain it. We will always be able to maintain it, but in terms of implementing these massive projects we need huge capital upfront.
“The other option is to do nothing. We will keep on maintaining what is there and the congestion will build up. We are not an agency. We are an SOE [state-owned entity] level 3, so we are not making any profit.
“For us, it’s not about the tolling. It’s about being able to generate the revenue to enable us to build mega projects which will enable economic growth.”
Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said the organisation was tired of being berated.
“Sanral is an engineering outfit and not the custodian of public funding. The government, Treasury and citizens must agree that if we want this infrastructure, how will we pay for it? That shouldn’t be a discussion for engineers. We are not on a tolling crusade. If our citizens can give us a pot of money to build without tolling, we will welcome that. ”
Mona said that he would “love to see, for instance, the implementation of a fuel levy”.
“But please explain how you are going to get all the other provinces to agree they are going to pay for roads in Gauteng?”
Both Mona and Van Niekerk pointed out that there was currently not enough money for improving road infrastructure.
About R40 billion was needed for priority projects but Sanral got an annual allocation of just R15 billion from the fiscus.
A further R150 billion was needed for future projects, said Van Niekerk.
“I know the argument is to get rid of corruption, then the money will be there. But that is not something for Sanral to address,” Van Niekerk said.
Sanral’s chief financial officer, Inge Mulder, said a future overall strategy for the country’s roads, called Horizon 2030, was something the transport minister would take to parliament.
“But it’s a 2030 view … and it’s a strategy more than it is a funding proposal,” said Mulder.