Tuesday, 2 April 2013

News briefs - Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, USA

Indonesia - Citra Marga Nusaphala Persada building more toll roads

The Jakarta Globe reports that Citra Marga Nusaphala Persada, the privately owned infrastructure firm, is planning to spend around US$200 million (Rp.2 trillion) on new projects.  It has a 62.5% share of a 22.8-kilometer toll road, connecting Antasari, in South Jakarta, and Depok in West Java.

Philippines - Call to scrap VAT on tolls and subsidies for private toll roads

Business Mirror reports that Senator Ralph Recto has called for an end to the 12% VAT on tolls to ameliorate expected increases in tolls.  He suggests this would be preferable than plans to subsidise more toll roads to encourage private sector investment.  At present toll road operators have to apply for increases in tolls from the Toll Regulatory Board and are expecting to increase tolls by 10-33% this year.  His view is that if toll road operators could price the roads to generate a return that they could fully recover, the need for subsidies could be avoided.

South Africa - SANRAL CEO calls for acceptance of court decision

Engineering News reports that the South African National Roads Agency Ltd. Chief Executive, Nazir Alli, has called for opponents to tolling to "accept" the decision by the Constitutional Court to set aside the "interim interdict" granted to the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (a lobby group opposed to tolling urban roads in the country), stopping tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

He said that without tolls, there wouldn't be the money to pay for major road improvements and claimed that the money for roads would need to involve cutting subsidies to public transport instead.   He claimed that government did not have enough money to pay for building and upgrading all of the roads required, and that much of South Africa's roads are not tolled.

USA- New York  - Could New York introduce congestion pricing more readily now?

Keystone politics points out that Manhatten now, effectively, has a cordon of automatic number plate recognition cameras, on all bridges, run by the NYPD.  So, perhaps, the costs of congestion pricing may be slightly less than otherwise thought?

USA - Texas - Groups urge boycott of USA's fastest toll road

Texas SH130 is now the USA's fastest road with a speed limit of 85mph, but the website of TV station KXAN reports that groups "Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom" (TURF) and "Texans for Accountable Government" (TAG) are urging motorists to boycott the road.

Opposition appears to be based on:
- Safety fears at the high speed limit;
- Little efforts taken to avoid feral hogs from being a collision risk;
- Xenophobia (because the road is owned by Cintra, which is of course Spanish).

TURF is a contradictory organisation, that is opposed to tolls because roads "should be free".  It claims to "work tirelessly to secure a pro-freedom, pro-taxpayer, fiscally solvent, freely-accessible public road policy".  Quite how making taxpayers pay for roads they don't use, and opposing user pays is pro-freedom and pro-taxpayer, is rather curious.  Indeed forcing taxpayers to pay for something they don't use is quite socialist, opposing privately owned roads is as well.   I can empathise with concerns around eminent domain and improving the quality of government spending, but opposing Cintra because it is foreign is simply mindless nationalism.  Should foreigners stop buying goods and services produced by Texan firms?

TAG has a broader political focus saying it is "dedicated to safe guarding individual liberty, protecting personal privacy and property rights, election integrity, safe water, and electing representatives, not bureaucrats, to office", but it was far from easy to find anything on tolls on its website.

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