Category Economy
SUB CATEGORIES Budget 2017 |  Budget 2018 |  Budget 2019 |  Budget 2020 |  Budget 2021 |  Budget 2022 |  Budget 2023 |  Budget 2024 |  General | 

Toll road robbery – the worst kept secret ever

07 February 2011 Gareth Stokes
Gareth Stokes, FAnews Online Editor

Gareth Stokes, FAnews Online Editor

It’s official. From 23 June 2011 Gauteng motorists will pay through their noses to use the province’s freeway network. Although we’ve had more than two years to grow accustomed to the idea, few of us were prepared for the 66c/km toll announced by the country’s SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) on Friday, 4 February 2011. Motorists who use the 185 km of improved highways will be tolled via a series of 47 gantries, which have electronic equipment to capture vehicle license plate and e-tag details.

There are two ways to “pay” the toll. The preferred method will require that you purchase an e-tag, which must be placed visibly on your vehicle’s front windshield. Each time your vehicle passes under a gantry an amount will be debited to your e-tag account. Motorists will pay R1 000 up-front for the e-tag (such amount to be credited to their toll account) and subsequently be billed a reduced toll rate of 49.5c/km. Medium sized trucks with the e-tag will pay R1.49/km and heavy trucks R2.97/km. Alternatively a bill for the full amount (between 66c/km for passenger vehicles and R3.96/km for heavy trucks) will be posted to the vehicle’s registered owner.

Paying government for using your money to build roads

Toll roads are an emotive topic. It seems bizarre, for example, that government effectively hands over taxpayer-funded infrastructure to a “private” company, which then secures government-backed loans to upgrade said infrastructure, only to charge the same taxpayers to use it again. According to Sanral the toll will initially go towards repaying the approximately R20 billion spent on improving the roads, ongoing road maintenance and the toll company’s operating expenses. They estimate the tolling network will rake in a conservative R300 million per month!” (Which by my calculations means the loans could be repaid in seventy months)?

The trouble with toll roads is two fold. First – the taxpayers aren’t privy to the amounts of money spent on operational aspects. As de facto shareholders of these companies taxpayers should be able to call the shots on the number of toll company employees as well as determine whether the remuneration paid to these employees, and profits generated by these organisations, are fair and reasonable. Second – there’s no way of knowing when the loans for which the tolls were initially raised are paid off. In our view the toll levied on motorists should drastically reduce once the loans are settled and once the operational costs associated with the tolling activities stabilise.

Some objections are inevitable

Another problem centres on enforcement. South African traffic enforcement bodies will have their work cut out if they expect the e-tag system – already applied in many European countries – to work effectively here. At a minimum they need to ensure all vehicles travelling on the tolled motorways display visible and legally correct license plates. Local consumers are particularly concerned the tolls will only impact the country’s law abiding citizens… This reader comment appeared on online news portal “Does anybody really believe that sending letters to ‘owners’ of minibuses will result in them paying fees or penalties? Get real. They already avoid paying for anything, tax, insurance, fines, etc, and these gantries are a joke. Use an un-licensed, unregistered minibus, or register it at a false address, and the enforcement agencies can do nothing!” By the book or not, South Africa’s taxi industry has been quick to voice their concerns over the tolling plans. They want exemptions from the charges – now!

This consumer outrage echoes through hundreds of Internet posts on the topic. There are already open cries from local consumers to boycott the charges... Another reader opines: “There is only one solution to this highway robbery: don’t buy the e-tag and don’t pay the bill when you receive it. A mass consumer boycott is the answer to these swindlers and thieves!” Similar sentiment was expressed by dozens of other reader comments in response to the toll fee announcement.

Another opportunity for big brother

The toll gantries have another application. Should enforcement officers decide to, they can use the system of gantries to monitor individual vehicle speeds over sections of the highway. This method of speed enforcement has been successfully implemented on various toll roads in Europe. Provided the times at each gantry are synchronised (which they should be since they’re likely to be networked on the same computer system), an operator can determine with great accuracy the average speed of a vehicle between two booths. Gauteng’s booths will be between 5km and 10km apart, which means motorists with a heavy foot can be easily spotted and – at some future date – fined for their speeding transgressions over and above the toll fee.

Love them or hate them, it seems toll roads are here to stay. Government simply doesn’t have enough tax revenue to meet its commitments to maintain existing road infrastructure AND provide new roads. As taxpayers our only recourse is to demand greater transparency from government regards the application of toll revenues. We should be asking: Who is getting the contracts to maintain these toll roads? Who will monitor that the toll charged is indeed a fair reflection of the “least cost” of maintaining roads and covering the toll company’s operating costs? Who benefits from the “profits” generated by these supposedly private tolling concessions, and what is their political affiliation? And who will ensure the toll is reduced once the so-called loans are paid off?

Editor’s thoughts: I’m fairly fortunate in that I don’t use the motorways on a daily basis… But even making two or three trips to Sandton (from Centurion) each month could leave me out of pocket to the tune of R480. What do you think about the cost to motorists (the toll) for the Gauteng highway improvement project? Add your comment below, or send it to


Added by James, 15 Feb 2011
We need to find out who appointed the "foreign" company to complete the contract. Maybe Patricia de lille should start another investigation as she did with the Defence contract. This is virtually the same as the Building Contractors that erred on the erection of the sports venues. Nothing will happen because the South African public are toothless, gullible and just get rolled over by any media propaganda. Time to hit the hand brakes on this robbery even if it is sanctioned by the Corrupt ANC Government.
Report Abuse
Added by John, 14 Feb 2011
The tolls are yet another example of inefficient or corrupt government. For example, we have experienced the Eskom, SABC, SAA, etc scandals. I would definately appreciate more info on the details of the agreement of this toll initiative ( the minutes of the meetings, etc ) and the finances : who are the main shareholders of the private company, etc. I will support any action to obatin more info and/or to apply pressure on the private company and government to be more transparent and accountable
Report Abuse
Added by Jayce, 10 Feb 2011
Has anyone considered how it will affect the car hire system in this town. Car hire companies are probably not going to be able to lay down a blanket fee for the tolls but rather charge the client after the fact. Who knows how many times a tourist/ overseas traveler is going to go thru each toll for the duration of their stay? Which means the cost of car hire will become even more prohibitive. Especially at the end of the process when our out of town visitor has to cough up several hundreds or even thousands of rands in toll fees. How will that work, I wonder?
Report Abuse
Added by Be Wise, 09 Feb 2011
The easiest way to avoid paying any toll fees is to register your car in Delmas, Bronkhorstspruit ar any other Mpumalanga town where you know someone. you just use their address and you got MP number plates. This is just another enrichment scheme for the Goverment fat cats, but they must remember one thing: When this cow(Tax payer) is dry, their problems will start.
Report Abuse
Added by Frank, 09 Feb 2011
I am based in Centurion. My biggest business clients are scattered from Roslyn in the North to Wadeville in the South with a large number in between. I have to visit these clients at least once a month to maintain relations and problem solve. I am caught between having to waste a lot of time (time = money) in gridlocked back roads or pay through the teeth to use the toll road. I would certainly join any protest planned. I can appreciate there are costs involved and everyone using the toll road is taxed - perhaps this is one of the few ways the taxis will be able to contribute toward the roads they use BUT the price is exorbitant and I will not be using the toll roads at the current costs.
Report Abuse
Added by Majority, 09 Feb 2011
VOTE DP!!!!! It's that simple.
Report Abuse
Added by Unbelievable, 08 Feb 2011
As you say, the Great "Gravy" Train Robbery under full steam. I will certainly not use the motorways and gridlock the suburban roads whilst causing their degradation as they cannot carry the volume of traffic I hope is created. The "new" motorways only bring one to the off ramps quicker but the "old" suburban roads then cannot manage the volumes and the gridlock starts there. I think that as only one lane has been added to the roadways I have paid for anyway, this tolling system is a fraud and perversion of the truth to con the users into generating money that we the public will never see the end use of. Viva the suburban roads. Viva chaos.
Report Abuse
Added by 'Bleed my child', 08 Feb 2011
It is appalling that revenue collection and service delivery in South Africa are (3rd)worlds apart!.....Our Jhb/Gauteng freeways have been used, and maintained for years by those of us who pay our taxes! - This again smells of some statesman's empire building idea - where the grandure of his 'deemed' political prowess will cost us,( the SA consumer) going on into perpetuity! - An additional cost which will further stifle any prospect of growth in our economy - oh yes, and probably 'force' the hand of business to further improve balance sheet efficiencies (even after fending off the global Financial meltdown) and shed their more costly overheads......workers! (and so another JZ's grand ideas - ie adding 5mill jobs to our economy - reads like a fairy tale.
Report Abuse
Added by AH Employee, 07 Feb 2011
Gareth, in paragraph 2 you mention that "Motorists will pay R1 000 up-front for the e-tag ". Are you sure of this? I've been on the website and i've seen a few articles indicating that Sanral will supply the tag free of charge. Thanks
Report Abuse
Added by Chris, 07 Feb 2011
I do bleliev that it would have been far more economical and practical to re-introduce a specific fuel levy for SANRAL to fund their work. All over the country we need road improvements and it is not practical to toll low volume roads as the individual costs would be too high. At least a fuel levy could go directly to road building and maintenace, not into the bottomless pit for the officials to plunder.
Report Abuse
Added by Craig A, 07 Feb 2011
The objective is to stop all the congestion on our highways. It will probably work, but the suburbs are going to be congested now. If your budget doesn't allow for an additional R 300-500, then you'll be forced to change your route. In Europe this works (and it is expensive) but you do have the option of public transport, which we dont have. It's going to hurt the economy - the cost of deliveries will be increased drastically. But if the taxi's pay it, I'll pay it. Yeah right, they are a law unto their own. Maybe they will burn the gantries after a week. Go for it.
Report Abuse
Added by Wordless!, 07 Feb 2011
Where is the democray that we were promised? We are just told this is how much you will pay, take it and shut up. Already our local roads are being used or rather misused by the big truck operators, making them virtually undrivable for the rest of us! All these roads were paid with tax payer money...will the levies build into petrol prices for road maintenance be reduced? At the end of the day, I have several businesses, one of which a is a small transport business. The staff in all my businesses will be looking at me, for higher salaries to make up for their higher expenditure as a direct result of the tollfees. They will also be worst off, as I would think that all business owners will have to increase their fees and or prices to their clients, thus putting into effect a huge inflationary chain reaction, that will proparbly lead to an increase in prime lending rate, once again reducing the buying power of all consumers, not just those making use of the toll roads!! Least of all the unemployment effect due to the fact that I will have to reduce my staff to afford my remaining staff and try and sustain my business!! Is there no one in our entire government that can see that they should rather stop stealing and mismanaging tax payers money, rather than increasing the burden on already over taxed tax payers...or would they like for SA to turn into a poor third world country first, without any proffesionals and or investors left...a Julias Malema paradise??
Report Abuse
Added by Mar, 07 Feb 2011
This is daylight robbery. Why does the Government have to milk the public. They obviously do not have any money to build the roads. Where is all the money? Next we will be paying higher taxes. This is becoming the most expensive country in the world. It amounts to having to pay for using the roads. It is ludicrious. The taxis are going to moan as well as everybody else. The costs of food etc. are going to cost much more. I do not know where this is going to end.
Report Abuse
Added by Speechless, 07 Feb 2011
The Government is creating poverty, not resolving it. this will leave less funds for companies and individuals to hire alternate staff such as maids. This is just the beginning!
Report Abuse
Added by Thiens, 07 Feb 2011
What about all the trucks from Zimbabwe , Malawi or any outsiders using the roads? How wil they be charged?
Report Abuse
Added by John, 07 Feb 2011
The technology here is far fetched, and would be very impressive in a first world country, but in a country that delivers proof of being third world every time its leaders open their mouths It is going to mean one thing only. Those who are going to do the paying are the ones who don't actually vote for those who make the decisions.
Report Abuse
Added by Peter, 07 Feb 2011
The govenment is making us pay for using the road that many people use to get to work on a daily basis. There is no alternative for us to use but use our cars. Explain to me how someone living in the soujth of Johannesbutg (Soweto, Lenasia and even souther suburbs) can get to Randburg, Sandton,Fourways except using their cars? For someone living in the south and working in the north the monthly bill will be around R700-R 1000. This ontop of the ever increasing fuel price. The govenment should have firstly provided us with a decent alternative before taxing us for going to work
Report Abuse
Added by Anti-TollThievery, 07 Feb 2011
Now that the corrupt baby-raping criminals in government have succeeded in stealing every available tax Rand they can, they are now looking for even more to steal. This is the only way they can get it and the new toll system will provide countless millions to buy thieves luxury cars, luxury house and an opulent lifestyle all while they do no actual work to earn these "rewards" We have been paying a tax on fuel for ages and this was originally earmarked to keep the infrastructure up to date. When these pig fornicating robbers saw this money could also be stolen from the taxpayer they quickly made sure it was diverted into the collective tax pool. Thus no upgrading was done for years and now we have to pay for it all over again - no way! If South Africans don't finally stand up and refuse this latest money making scheme then we truly deserve this corrupt and useless government!
Report Abuse
Added by Mara Y, 07 Feb 2011
Mara why? What happened to all the taxes that we pay on everything, from medicines to municipal services to petrol to electricity, etc.? Or the indirect tax on school girls who fall pregnant and we all have to maintain their children? Or to sushi-off-naked-girls tycoons who have no regard for any morals? Or 20-odd children of a certain president who acts like a monarch? Or Juju's Range Rover Sport and Sandton mansion, among others? Or...
Report Abuse
Added by Skorriemorrie, 07 Feb 2011
Welcome to Africa...Africans motto is to milk you as much as they can because they can, and you can do nothing about , learn to live with it. Like always, to late to complain or to make a difference. If you do not like it, do not use it, just a little bit of better planning, thats all, just do not expect the government to do the planning because the only planning they do is to stay in power and to enrich themselves and their friends...
Report Abuse
Added by Infrastructure hell!, 07 Feb 2011
Don't think that just because you don't travel on the highways this won't affect you! My belief is that many many people who currently use the highway to commute will be looking for alternative routes, resulting in our already over-burdened and fragile Jhb infrastructure becoming intolerable. Roads such as Witkoppen, Republic, to name a couple, which already struggle with the volume of traffic as well as often non-functioning traffic lights will in my opinion become an absolute nightmare . . .
Report Abuse
Added by Boozue, 07 Feb 2011
A response from someone, I was discussing the matter with. quiet eye opening. There are quite a number of economic and security questions that relate to the toll roads in the economic centre of South Africa. The first would be the impact on foodstuffs; transport costs and overall inflation given that we produce most goods and services in the Gauteng Province and constitute over a third of the country's GDP. The second; question would be the budget of the Department of Transport and what it would do with it in Gauteng given that the roads would be paid for. The third is how Sanral will split the revenue with the Province and Metropoles. The third besides the economic questions would relate to the security of the system and how it would be basically be policed. The criminals will have a field day with the system. The department of Transport has problems with e-Natis system and the metropoles have a problem with licensing let alone billing for electricity. The fourth issue is a social one; the rich live near where they work and it is the poor who will pay the most through taxis; buses and their vehicles. It is going to cause a major social discontent that will express itself in various ways as it will penalise people for staying in Pretoria and working in Johannesburg or vice versa. It will basically increase the cost of living and push property prices in some areas. There will be unintended consequences. The problem of course will be that unions and workers must take into account the toll roads increases in their salaries in terms of food and transport. The question of who will operate the system comes to the fore as this theft on a grand scale that includes the unjustifiable fuel price increases we have experienced over the last four months given the strength of the rand against the dollar. We have a dysfunctional public transport system in the country with very little security hence the growth of the violent taxi industry.
Report Abuse
Added by disgruntled, 07 Feb 2011
Could not agree more, especially with the fact that most taxi drivers have no traceable abode. Furthermore, who will confront the taxi associations in order to collect these o/s fees? The law enforcement officers are completely intimidated by them ,as is. If memory serves me, part of the fuel price also covers road maintenance, thus the toll fees are , at the very least, exorbitant or unnecessary. As a small business owner, the increase in delivery costs will need to be passed on to the consumer who is already overtaxed and will be paying his own toll fees as well.
Report Abuse
Added by Unbelievable, 07 Feb 2011
Just another way goverment is using monies that is intended for the upkeep and developement of our roads for their personnal gain. If they don't get SANRAL to fix the road we would be living in Zim conditions. But we will fit the bill. People need to understand that we need to start voting for services delivery and the use of our hard earned money by the goverment - not for Freedom that they already have for the past 20 years. It can not be taken away
Report Abuse

Comment on this post

Email Address*
Security Check *
fanews magazine
FAnews April 2024 Get the latest issue of FAnews

This month's headlines

FAIS Ombud lashes broker for multiple compliance blunders
TCF… a regulatory misfit initiative?
The impact of NHI on medical malpractice insurance
Fixed versus variable: can you have your cake and eat it too?
The future world of work
Subscribe now