Western Cape tolls just the beginning: Sanral

The introduction of tolls to the Western Cape will represent a small part of the overall proposed N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project, the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) said on Tuesday.

“Tolls are a small component of the overall project. In money terms, it’s not even 20 percent. The bulk of the cost is on upgrades,” project engineer Tiago Massingue told Sapa.

He said the project included 16 “brand new” interchanges and upgrades to pavements, bridges, and tunnels.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a Sanral media briefing in Bellville.

The proposed concession route along the N1 extends from west of the R300 interchange through to Sandhills. The N2 portion of the proposed toll road concession extends from west of the R300 to Bot River.

About 180km of highway in the province will be tolled should the project go ahead.

Last May, the Western Cape High Court granted the City of Cape Town an interim interdict preventing Sanral from implementing or advancing the toll project, including the conclusion of any contract or commencement of construction.

The interim relief was granted pending the court’s review of Sanral’s decision to implement the toll project. The review date has yet to be determined.

Massingue said the highway project would introduce traditional toll booths, rather than e-tolling gantries.

“You’d call it a traditional [toll]. It’s a boom down situation where you go, you stop, you pay and you go.”

He said the e-tolling system, as introduced in the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), was only valid when roads carried a massive number of vehicles.

An example was the Ben Schoeman Interchange in Gauteng which carried 220,000 vehicles a day, making it impractical to stop and start with traditional tolls.

Massingue said highway portions around Cape Town carried between 52,000 and 160,000 vehicles a day.

“In 30 years from now, if that situation did arise that we jump exponentially to the high volume recorded about the GFIP, then we’ll introduce it [e-tolling].”

According to a presentation, Sanral was responsible for around 19,700km of the country’s 750,000km road network.

Of these, 84 percent of roads were not tolled. Nine percent were operated by agency tolls, and seven percent by private concessionaires.

Massingue said they had not negotiated a contract with a prospective concessionaire pending the “unfortunate” court action.

He was asked why Sanral wished to use a private funding model for the winelands project instead of looking to the National Treasury.

“Our overall budget we receive annually was R10 billion from the Treasury. This project, a single project, is R10bn. It’s absolutely difficult for Treasury to raise that amount of money to upgrade,” he said.

“It is incorrect to assume Treasury will always have money… Regardless of who pays, the upgrades and improvements remain crucial.”

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Western Cape tolls just the beginning: Sanral