DA slams Botha's toll praise

2012-02-22 09:23

PRETORIA - The proposed Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project would result in "unmitigated" success and tangible benefits for South Africa, a public finance economist has said, although the Democratic Alliance has challenged his findings.

Roelof Botha, director of a San Francisco-based venture capital company, former CFO of PayPal and grandson of former National Party foreign minister Pik Botha, said: "It will make the rich poorer, not the poor poorer."

This statement was perhaps in response to the Congress of SA Trade Unions that had recently said the project would make the poor poorer.

Botha's research, however, found that the project would result in the highest-income earning 20% of the richest people in Gauteng paying as much as 94% of the toll fees while most of the poor people would stick to public transport.


Botha, who spoke in his personal capacity, argued that the flagship toll project would maintain South Africa's international credit ratings and obviate the need for fuel levy increases. It would also allow rapid investment in road construction, alleviate traffic congestion, and enhance safety.

The DA's Neil Campbell, however, has blasted Botha's findings and reaffirmed the party's opposition to the toll roads in Gauteng.

Campbell said: "[The] claim that most poor people will not have to pay tolls as they use public transport is not accurate as not all taxis and buses will travel toll free, but rather only those with licences and on approved routes."

He contended that home owners would also pay increased rates to fund the additional municipal road maintenance required due to increased pressure on roads by drivers avoiding the toll roads.


In 2011 the SA National Roads Agency announced that tolling was imminent on 185km of the N1, N3, N12 and R21 around Johannesburg and Pretoria. In terms of the GFIP, these roads and their interchanges had been improved and costs estimated at around R20-billion would be recouped through toll charges.

E-tolling was placed on hold in January, 2012, after a huge outcry that the fees were unaffordable. Botha contended that commuting time saved (due to additional lanes) would translate into productive earnings.

Campbell countered that the cost of every item transported along the toll roads would increase because hauliers would resort to raising their prices for transporting goods.

"This will impact on every resident in Gauteng, as the price of every item transported, including food, will rise," Campbell said.

Botha was also confident that the project would raise South Africa's international competitiveness. "The GFIP funding model, approved by the government as early as 2007, has helped the Treasury in its attempts to maintain sound credit ratings during a difficult period (due to the 2008/2009 recession).

"It has also helped Sanral to get an international investor rating from Moody's."

Botha added that alternative funding through a heavier fuel price levy would, in practice, translate into funding from the country's general revenue pool and increase the price of petrol by more than R1/litre - which would have an inflationary effect on the economy.


  • jim.dickson2 - 2012-02-22 10:04

    Based in San Francisco.... So he won't be paying then. SO much to say about SA's economy? Come back and live here!

      Thando - 2012-02-22 10:39

      Agreed - what an idiot. I think he was payed by SANRAL to say what he did.

      Gary - 2012-02-22 11:12

      Exactly...........plus no offence, but who the f**k is he anyway? The only reason that this article exists is because of his grand dad.

      Vusi - 2012-02-23 07:22

      Isn't this absolutely ridiculous! Getting some Apartheid Minister's off spring, living in San Francisco, commenting on our toll roads????? If my comments weren't going to be deleted, I would sworn for the next 10 lines!

  • Gareth - 2012-02-22 10:07

    Yeah right.....????? The fuel WILL continue going up anyway! And HOW does paying ridiculas toll fees reduce congestion and make the roads safer??????????? Please explain!!! And, inflation WILL also go through the roof as ALL, including the poor through inflation due to transport costs!!!!

      christo.stone - 2012-02-22 22:22

      Don't register for e-tolling. If no one registers there is nothing they can do about it. It's time the people run the government as the current morons only enrich themselves!

      Lourens - 2012-02-24 12:35

      if u dont register 4 e-tolling they charge you more money! read an earlier article. Like usual the countries peoples' needs are ignored and it doesn't matter what we do, they WILL implement the system

  • Lourens - 2012-02-22 10:08

    And what about transport cost increases on food. Does the poor not eat? Everything gets transported, so everything will increase in cost, therefore prices will increase, this is common sence, or am I missing something here.

      Klaus - 2012-02-22 12:12

      No Lourens, you didn't miss anything, its called the "Trickle down effect", transport cost goes up, everybody jumps on the bandwagon with price increases. Botha is either an idiot or was misquoted.

  • Dave - 2012-02-22 10:10

    How are inflated food costs due to delivery vehicles paying tolls not going to affect the poor? Twat!

  • Ronald - 2012-02-22 10:30

    Dear Mr Botha. Please don’t take exception to what I am saying. “You are an idiot!” If you had proposed alternate models whilst NOT jeopardising our prized ratings then I would have some respect for you. How about this? During Apartheid, all roads maintenance was paid from vehicle license fees. That means every person driving a vehicle (and pays his fees) contribute. How about small additional non-crippling levy on fuel? Everyone MUST have fuel in order to drive. How about eNaTIS transactions fees? I would pay a once off R200 on licensing to ‘fund’ road maintenance. How about using existing mechanism to generate additional income? eNaTIS gives access to Banks, and Vehicle Manufactures at no cost. Let them pay. Go and do thorough study on the rich and you will see how poor they/we are. Ask the MEC’s of all our provinces where do the vehicle licence fees go? We are taxed almost 49 cents on every Rand we earn and you have the audacity to say the rich will get poorer, I have news for you, they already are!

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-22 10:36

    What Mr. Botha's is saying is that we should have toll roads because only the rich will use them so the blacks who can't afford them will benefit......same sort of nonsense logic his grandfather sprouted. Toll roads are simply an excuse for government to sell off its obligations to foreign companies that will export the bulk of the profit made to overseas shareholders in the same way that their returns on parking meters are only in the region of 20% while the remaining 80% pays salaries and then overseas shareholders. The south African Government is actively selling us, its people off to the highest bidder, the only winner being government while the average taxpayer looses in the region of 60% of his earned income to rate, taxes, vat and whatever other "duties" the government throws at us. The future of the ANC rely's solely on the their ability to shield the population from their lies.

  • Frank - 2012-02-22 10:38

    i`m not `rich`,if i have to pay R 1 500 toll fees a month my budget will be f***d! As it is i`m struggling to keep my business afloat.

      Thando - 2012-02-22 13:40

      All of us man - I want to know which nitwit thought that SA consumers have R1500 per month just lying around. Was it that Ali guy ( CEO of SANRAL ) ? Scary ...

  • Darryn - 2012-02-22 11:13

    What an idiot, he obviously has no idea how the South African economy works.... In grabbing hands and pockets!

  • dawid.lombard - 2012-02-22 11:34

    What if everybody boycotted using the toll roads, instead we can jam up the secondary roads in peak traffic times(will they last?) and bring the country to a virtual stand still. Maybe, just maybe somebody will realize that we do count in South Africa after all.

  • Nitro - 2012-02-22 11:37

    Tolls only work if the majority of citizens (rich and poor) have an effective public transport system. So what do we have locally, taxis, buses and the Gautrain. Can we consider this adequate. No! Firstly the Gautrain is effecient but only serves a small part of Johannesburg. Our buses and taxis are ineffective and do not support effective travel options. So Mr. Botha, yes the tolling works as an economic tool but the problem still exists of no public transport system serving all citizens. Sorry to sound rude but simple research will highlight the etolling works in highly established public transport systems and fails when an alternative does not exist, example in case is Australia. It is sad also for an expat to be comment who is not going to be directly impacted by the proposed changes.

  • raath - 2012-02-22 14:23

    Dear Mr. Botha. If you drive your car on our highways, like we do, you can comment on this issue. But while you are not even in South Africa, I suggest you keep your ignorant mouth shut.

  • Clem - 2012-02-23 13:30

    Botha, you don't know dog@#$t..... There is no so-called public transport from Soweto, West and far West Rand, far East Rand and Babalegi to support your statement. Merely the socalled Minibus taxis and taking into consideration how many people are being killed it is a life threatening risk even to consider taking one of these.... So, while the above areas still lack something like the Gautrain, I would not nor could not afford toll fees.... And I am in the 6% of the taxpayers contributing the most to this country's tax base!!!!!

  • Kevin - 2012-02-24 07:54

    The rich want to remain rich .When the rich stop spending watch how poor the poor get.

  • lonkys - 2012-04-11 18:33

    This is a typical example of very poor journalism. It is clear that no proper research was done and assumptions were made. Although I dont have any problem with the merrit of the article, that statement was made by Roelof Botha, the economist, based in Pretoria. The Roelof Botha that you referred to in the article has absolutely nothing to do with the issue. The next time you want to slander someone else's name, get your facts straight.

  • pages:
  • 1