The Gauteng provincial government announced today that it is setting aside R123m as part of the plan to plug the funding gap for etolls created by the lower toll. The announcement was made by the province’s MEC of finance, Barbara Creecy at the Gauteng Midterm Budget Speech at the Gauteng Legislature in Johannesburg.
The new budget line is a requirement of the new etolls dispensation, announced by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, in May. According to Creasy, the R123m in today’s budget is 50% of the total amount required, the rest of which will come from central government.
— Gauteng Treasury (@GautengTreasury) November 17, 2015
Opponents to the etolling scheme, however, have been quick to point out that Sanral is off of its original monthly revenue targets by more than R123m a month, never mind its annual deficit. The roads agency originally budgeted for R260m to be received from etoll collections per month by this time in order to maintain its payments on the debt taken out to fund improvement works to Gauteng freeways. The most the firm has ever raised in one month is R120m in June 2014. It has since revised its revenue projections down to around R55-60m a month and according to the latest figures, that’s what it’s collecting. It’s not yet revealed whether or not the 60% discount applied to accounts in arrears has raised any substantial revenue.
“R123m is minuscule in the greater scheme of the etoll costs,” says Wayne Duvenage, chairman of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA), ” The scheme needs to raise R260 million per month, in order to be successful. They are at less than a quarter of that. What they intend to do with this small amount needs questioning? Who will it go to? What will it be used for?”
In the original estimation of the funding gap caused by lower toll fees, Ramaphosa said that the total government contibution would be R390m per annum – given that the lower fees came in to effect after the 2014/15 financial year started, the Gauteng contribution of R123m would seem to be slightly lower than that.
We’ve contacted Sanral for comment.