E-TOLL FEUD CONTINUES: Outa head, Wayne Duvenage says that Sanral’s dismissal of a cost report is an attempt to distract from more important questions being asked. Image: iStock
Johannesburg - The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) responded to a report by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) regarding the costs of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).
Sanral alleged in its presentation that Outa’s report is filled with inaccuracies, and misrepresentations, and should not be taken seriously. Outa defended its report.
While both organisations feud, the Automobile Association (AA) responds: "While the issues raised by Outa, and the subsequent response by SANRAL, are important, and speak to significant matters of collusion, price fixing, and corruption, the Automobile Association (AA) believes this is not the most immediate and pressing concern to South African motorists, especially those in Gauteng who use the GFIP roads."
Battle to 'end in court'
The AA said: “We believe the matters raised by Outa relating to the costs of the GFIP must be brought swiftly to finality. However, we believe the more urgent issue for Gauteng motorists is a need to resolve the ongoing impasse regarding payment or non-payment of e-tolls, especially against the backdrop of Sanral's recent threats to issue summons to individuals and companies.
“While we acknowledge that the payment of e-tolls is legislated, we cannot ignore the fact that a significant number of Gauteng road users are not paying their e-toll accounts. We believe this issue will eventually end in court where a decision on the validity of the debts is made. This is what Gauteng motorists are concerned about now, and efforts to resolve this should be a priority for all concerned.”
Fuel levy should fund e-tolls
The AA said it maintains its position that reserving a dedicated portion of the fuel levy is still the best funding model for e-tolls, as the cost is not amplified by administration and collection costs.
The AA said: “We have said this many times before: the funding of roads is not the issue. The real issue, we believe, is the mechanism chosen to fund the GFIP. Along with this, we believe SANRAL’s continued heavy-handed approach to motorists, are among the main reasons for the payment boycott we are currently experiencing. This issue needs to be resolved to provide Gauteng motorists with a way forward, which they deserve."
Sanral dismisses Outa report
Outa questioned information released by Sanral regarding the costs of e-tolls, stating that it is far more expensive when compared to international costs. Sanral, in turn, dismissed these claims and subsequently told Outa to revert any and all queries to Sanral's attorneys.
Outa said it made attempts to speak with Sanral and its attorneys regarding the statements made, but with no success.
Wayne Duvenage, OUTA Chairperson, had some choice words for Sanral: “Honestly, does Sanral seriously think we would misquote a cost in error to the tune of 100,000%? Sanral should know better than to try and make an outrageous claim of this nature, before looking a little deeper into their grossly erroneous assertion.”
Duvenage adds: “It is too easy for Mr [Nazir] Alli (CEO of the Sanral) to say ‘We went to a public tender process, those were the prices that we got from the industry.’ This atrocious statement implies that he or Sanral has no ability to challenge, question or research possible collusive pricing. We expect our State Owned Entities to question and challenge their suppliers and not to simply adopt an attitude of “well, that’s the price we got, so that’s the price we took."