|Initial phase is what is being opened, future phases are deferred|
I've written before about the controversy around the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project - a network of improved highways in Gauteng province in South Africa, including new and widened routes. A total of 205km of new or upgraded roads, at a cost of 20 billion Rand (US$2.4 billion). The key problem being that many of the upgraded roads are not tolled currently, but will be tolled once it is all opened. There have been many calls for tolls to not be implemented or to be substantially reformed. Decisions on toll rates were delayed.
Now Business Day reports that the South African Government has decided on the toll schedule for the roads.
Taxis and commuter buses are to be exempt (a change from past proposals).
Tariffs for motorcyclists, light vehicle motorists and trucks were approved at the level suggested by the toll road steering committee proposed at the end of June.
Motorcycles will pay 24c/km (US$0.03);
Light vehicles will pay 40c/km (US$0.05);
Medium vehicles known as Class B will pay 100c/km (US$0.12); and
Long, heavy trucks or Class C vehicles will pay 200c/km (US$0.24).
Some concern has been expressed at the taxi and bus exemption costing revenue, although they already had a 75% discount in the earlier proposals. The impact is considered to 2% "of all usage" (it not being clear if that means revenue or total vehicle numbers). This will be covered by extending the loan for the project by 18 months to 2 years (the project is not a PPP, but financed through government borrowings through SANRAL - the South African National Roads Agency Ltd).
Hopefully, this compromise will help, but given the decision to freeze further developments of the network, it is clear that imposing new tolls on existing roads is very risky politically. Particularly when motorists think they already pay enough for roads through existing taxes. Future tolling in South Africa is likely to be far more cautious.
Cabinet has delayed future phases of the upgrade until it can determine how best to fund them.