Photo: Flickr/Paul Saad
Photo: Flickr/Paul Saad
Suspicions have been raised after Sanral managed to secure another R7 billion in loans – despite already being up to their necks in interest-bearing debts. The road agency, responsible for the upkeep of South African highways and the e-tolls system – is now R54 billion in the red.
They were granted the whopping loan by the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB). The group explained where the money would be going, as they bid to improve the quality of roads in Mzansi: Their plans include:
However, it is the focus on toll roads that have piqued the interest of some critics. The Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has consistently been one of the most vocal opponents of e-tolls. They have raised concerns that a chunk of the R7 billion could be funnelled into the failed project.
Wayne Duvenage is the CEO of the group. He has questioned why some toll roads are being considered for upgrades, suggesting that the fee collection from motorists should be enough to cover maintenance costs. Duvenage has also blasted the Treasury for “failing to show any clarity” over the deal:
“What the public requires is transparency on why this loan is needed, especially in light of the fact that the NDB statement says this funding is being applied to the National Toll Roads Strengthening and Improvement Programme. As far as we are concerned, funding for tolled roads comes from the collection of tolls on those road networks.”
“We would like to know if this funding is going toward the GFIP bonds (for e-tolled roads) or other SANRAL-managed toll roads that are supposed to be self-funding. We don’t believe these funds are being allocated to the concessionaire tolled routes (N3TC, Bakwena and TRAC) and would be extremely concerned if this was the case.”Wayne Duvenage, OUTA
To label e-tolls as an “unmitigated disaster” may prove to be an understatement. The universally unpopular toll roads have been boycotted by drivers, with at least 75% of residents in Gauteng refusing to their fees. The ANC has been divided on how to tackle the issue, with national and provincial governments at odds with each other.
At a time where the clamour to bin the system has never been louder, these additional billions may end up being ploughed into an obsolete project: Something that OUTA is keen to avoid.