Forget Toll Roads: We have the money! And we’ve had it all along…

There have been many heated debates and commentaries on the current state of affairs surrounding toll roads in South Africa, but for the sake of clarity, I think it can be summarised as follows:

1. SANRAL, by way of it’s logic challenged spokesman, Vusi Mona, and it’s clearly equally challenged minister,  Dipuo Peters, claims that it is not possible to fund road maintenance and new infrastructure from the fiscus and thus we need toll roads.  “Government has mandated them to do this.”
Update: They have finally indicated that an additional R3.65 added to the fuel levy would have to be implemented as an alternative to tolling, thus bringing the fuel levy to R5.77 per liter.

2. Various parties have mounted legal challenges to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.  OUTA and the DA have taken the matter to court, but to date have failed to make convincing enough claims to stop the projects.

I have often asked myself how much money the state collects via the fuel levy and haven’t heard much comment on that.  (update: Outa has done so since the first version of this post)  However, this comment on MyBroadband on the matter of conventional tolling of the Western Cape’s freeways, made me decide to analyse the situation to get some clarity.

Fuel Levy Stats

In more detail:

According to Shell & SAPIA in 2014 the following applied:

Fuel Levies CollectedNow, since SANRAL has to publish it’s Annual Financial Statements, we can see what they actually spend.  It seems much more has been collected that was used! (Remember there are toll fees in this income already from many toll roads across South Africa)

Sanral Financial Data

It’s also relevant to note how SANRAL views depreciation of the assets under it’s control:

Sanral DepreciationMinister Peters also recently said that the backlog to fix South Africa’s roads is R197 billion.  We don’t know what that is based on and that it’s probably wrong, based on the the other Peters track record.  But, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume a 50 year loan for that amount (@ 8.5% as per the world-bank rate for South Africa). That would cost  R1.415 billion per month, or R16.99 billion per year to pay back, leaving R30 billion for ongoing maintenance and new projects not included in the R197 backlog.

2014 Fuel Levies application

According to SANRAL, it receives R10 billion annually from the fiscus currently, which is of course too little to do their work (source: SANRAL Non Toll Budget 2013/2014).  It looks like a sinister movie plot, but it’s not:

    • The Ministry of Finance assigns less than 22% of the fuel levy to the purpose for which it was collected.
    • Toll roads are constructed, despite fierce opposition to the plans, since there’s “not enough money
    • Furthermore the government pension funds risks “investing” in SANRAL in lieu of the GPIF tolling project.
    • Only once, in 2003, was there a one month statutory appeal period to register objections to the Western Cape N1/N2 Toll Road project, the appeals which minister of transport summarily dismissed.

What is going on here?  Surely a legal challenge to the misappropriation of funds can be mounted and the effects thereof reversed?  After all, it was Barend du Plessis, under the “dreaded apartheid regime” that instated this fiscal travesty by dumping the fuel levy into the fiscus, ending the road fund (the South African NP government was facing serious financial problems at the time).  In effect he raided the road fund.  Exactly what the South African ANC government is now doing.South Africa, by way of it’s road users, has paid R324 billion to keep its roads in good shape, yet the Government has thought it totally in order to misappropriate R224 billion (that is R 224 000 000 000) of that money.  To add injury to insult, it now wants to collect more than R1 000 000 per month from the Gauteng freeway users alone, to “cover the debt incurred to upgrade the Gauteng Freeways”.

How will this be stopped and reversed?

Will OUTA, the DA, Cosatu, the EFF and others take on the Ministry of Finance and it’s sinister plot to double-tax us continuously?

Or will the people of South Africa take matters into their own hands as the people of Brittany in France have?

In 2010, it seems, the idea of a dedicated road maintenance fund was put forward by S’bu Ndebele, transport minister at the time, although it seems the DA had been promoting the idea for some time before.  So if this is being planned, why is SANRAL forging ahead with its tolling regime?

There are those that claim this is part of UN agenda 21. Watching and reading about it, does seem to make some sense, in a bizarre way, of what SANRAL and the ANC are doing, but please decide for yourself.  At least it seems there are people brave enough to come forward and spill the beans!

South Africa’s ruling party is making a grave mistake if they think that they can continue on this path of reckless unaccountability in the face of the South Africa’s people.

In the words of an old “struggle stalwart”: Enough is enough!

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9 thoughts on “Forget Toll Roads: We have the money! And we’ve had it all along…

  1. A lot of good insights here and yes, someone or some institution needs to unpack the country’s entire road funding model. Today – Sanral is being handed over many Provincial roads to maintain. Are they receiving the treasury allocations accordingly? What % of Sanral’s funds are generated from other tolled routes? Why and how much of these existing tolled routes funds are being used on other roads? Enough is most certainly enough. Roland, would you like to assist OUTA in this area or even sit on the OUTA advisory committee?

    • If I can be of practical value, I’d love to be, yes.

      Regarding Sanral’s finances, you should see their financial statements. Lot’s of errors, amazing maths (how they increase their assets!) and it changes format every year! I’m not an accountant, but even I am flabbergasted!

  2. Andrew says:

    Excellent article – will definitely forward to all my contacts. Has anyone managed to trace who the greased hand beneficiaries are?

  3. Terence Bowker says:

    Hello Roland. I am sitting on my boat in France. Perhaps you have heard of the doomed attempt that the French government made to charge lorry drivers extra for using the country’s autoroutes? The gantries are up, but the users refused to cooperate. Billions of Euros are involved and accounts must be paid to the construction company, et al. If you sent me your email address, I shall send you an article on the subject from an English-language French newspaper. All power to your arm, Terence

  4. Terence Bowker says:

    Can’t Roland, its a photo I took of the November edition hard copy article. If you are interested, I am going up to Paris on Wednesday and will try and take a photo of one of the gantries on the autoroute. The newspaper doesn’t have the article on its website http://www.connexionfrance.com – I believe that like most journals, it waits for info to become old before pasting it on its website.

  5. Marina du Preez says:

    How interesting! Apparantly, lots of hands need to be greased and who will do the greasing if we don’t? Must be due to apartheid!

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