The South African National Roads Agency Limited’s (Sanral) proposed toll roads on the N1 and N2 will hit the City of Cape Town’s ratepayers hard as the city will have to spend over R500 million to upgrade its own roads.
This is because upgrading and capacity improvements on the city’s roads will be necessary because a lot of traffic avoiding the tolls will have to be redirected to the smaller city-owned roads.
This was disclosed on Monday when mayor Patricia de Lille and mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron announced that the city had applied for a court interdict to prevent Sanral from moving ahead with its plans.
And trucks using the N2 to transport fruit from the Theewaterskloof area may well have to pay R520 in toll fees for a round trip to Cape Town, according to Herron: “This is likely to lead to significant job losses in the agricultural sector.”
He said experts estimate that in order to accommodate the traffic that will divert off the national roads on to municipal roads, the city will have to spend “hundreds of millions of rands” while the annual cost of additional road maintenance due to diversionary traffic could easily top R100m.
In its affidavit, the City of Cape Town says the most fundamental question requiring consideration in relation to the project is whether the proposed maintenance projects should be funded by tolling or by other means.
“It is therefore most extraordinary that this question was not considered at all in the environmental impact assessment process,” read the papers.
“Based on the experience in South Africa with other toll roads, the project will impose enduring and escalating fees for travel on the roads and the revenue will eventually yield excess profits for the concessionaires which will probably be appropriated by Sanral for expenditure on roads elsewhere,” read the city’s affidavit.
Herron said that with the toll road the city would have to reach into its own pockets and use between R70m and R100m to upgrade its own roads. The city will also have to increase road capacity through capital improvements at a cost of between R200m and R400m.
De Lille said the city was trying to avoid another toll road “disaster” like the one happening in Johannesburg, adding that the proposed toll roads could be unconstitutional as they would affect the poor, in particular.
Sanral and the other respondents have until Tuesday, November 8 to file their answering affidavits.
The hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, December 6