The City of Cape Town should take full responsibility for its deteriorating traffic conditions, says South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) spokesman Vusi Mona.
Mona, in response to criticism regarding Sanral’s proposed Western Cape toll roads, added that the province’s "lack of safety on its highways" would have a negative long-term effect on the region’s economy.
In May 2015 Brett Herron, mayoral committee member of the Cape Town transport department, said Sanral's "proposed Winelands tolling project poses a huge financial risk to the national treasury".
‘SANRAL HAS A PLAN’
In March 2015, Wheels24 reported that Cape Town had retained its title of "most congested city" in South Africa, according to TomTom’s annual traffic index.
Mona says commuters stuck in traffic and farmers unable to move their produce to market effectively should “demand answers from the city on why it is delaying the much-needed construction programme”.
“Sanral has a plan to address the congestion through the N1/N2 Winelands Toll Project but this is being blocked by expensive legal actions launched by the city and its continuing disinformation campaign.”
The city's "transport woes" can be fixed through an integrated transport plan. The N1 and N2 freeway improvement initiative is crucial to the implementation of its plan.
The upgrade of 175km of the Winelands network, Sanral says, will cost about R12-billion and the agency receives an annual allocation of R12.6-billion from the National Treasury for the 18 300km national non-toll road network."
Funding of the Winelands upgrade can only be done through the 'user pays' principle, which is endorsed in the National Development Plan.
"Surely, Cape Town cannot expect that almost the entire budget for all South Africa’s national roads must be spent on one project?”
CITY'S 'DO NOTHING' APPROACH
Given the go-ahead, Sanral says, it will complete the initial construction in three years "to bring major relief for all road-users and benefit economic activity in the region".
The city's "do nothing" approach would "realise none of these objectives.”
“It is regrettable that the city has resorted to obfuscation to hide its inactivity and delay the start of the project. One of its claims is that tolls on the N1/N2 will be three times that payable by road users in Gauteng.
“The city knows full well," Mona said, "that no contract has been signed with a preferred bidder, no tariffs have been determined - they will be determined by the minister of transport after comprehensive negotiation and consultation.”
He added that the city was “exaggerating the effect of toll roads on road users, lower- and middle-income families, and on farmers”.
The city had also failed to inform that the proposed toll plaza locations had been determined to benefit users. "Many suburbs won't be affected, some road-users will have a choice to use the toll road."
For Capetonians not keen on paying, which routes are affected? Sanral answers:
• There are several alternative routes close to the two planned urban plazas.
• Communities living on the western side of the N2 – Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Philippi, Gugulethu, Ottery, Retreat and Grassy Park will not pay tolls.
•On the west side of the N1 the proposed toll plaza will be at Joostenbergvlakte. This means people living in Kraaifontein, Brackenfell, Bellville, Durbanville, Parow, Goodwood and Maitland will also not pass through a toll plaza on the way to the CBD.
•The available diversions around Joostenbergvlakte and Kuils River mean communities in Somerset West, Stellenbosch and Paarl will have a choice.
CAPE'S DELAYING TACTICS?
“The reality is that an improved road network is urgently needed to unlock the economic potential of the Western Cape. It will bring major benefits for the agriculture sector, the tourism industry, the movement of goods and products, and job creation.
“We urgently call on the city to drop its delaying tactics which are now hurting residents and visitors to the Mother City.”
CITY OF CAPE TOWN RESISTS
Herron said on May 21: "Due to public resistance, the National Government was forced to adopt a new hybrid model for e-tolls that effectively halves the price of travel on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) roads."
Read the City of Cape Town's full release
He said: "The National minister of transport has reduced the toll fees several times before already and the National Treasury has had to foot the bill for the shortfall. An even bigger financial crisis awaits Sanral and the National Treasury in Cape Town, should Sanral be allowed to continue with its proposed tolling of the N1 and N2 freeways.
"This is why the City applied and obtained an interdict that prevents Sanral from signing the concession contract with the Protea Parkways Consortium (PPC) until such time as a court has reviewed the decisions authorising the Winelands Tolling Project."
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