E-toll-

Finweek English Edition - - BUSINESS -

Af­ter many months of de­bates, court ap­peals and drive-slow protests against Gaut­eng’s elec­tronic tolling (e-toll), it seems this con­tro­ver­sial high­way tolling sys­tem will go full steam ahead.

Be­sides the Op­po­si­tion to Ur­ban Tolling Al­liance’s pub­lic op­po­si­tion to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the sys­tem on be­half of mo­torists us­ing the free­ways, a num­ber of busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions have raised gen­eral con­cerns on the ad­di­tional bur­den e-tolling would put on their pock­ets too.

The CEO of t he South African Cham­ber of Com­merce & In­dus­try (Sacci), Neren Rau, says busi­nesses in cen­tral re­gions like Gaut­eng face chal­lenges with how ex­pen­sive it is to trans­port com­modi­ties via road.

“As a na­tion we need to fo­cus on re­duc­ing the costs, and e-tolling won’t help,” says Rau, adding that its eco­nomic im­pact will be felt far be­yond Gaut­eng.

Deloitte Con­sult­ing di­rec­tor Chad Schae­fer says it is im­por­tant for mo­torists who’ll be us­ing Gaut­eng’s e-toll routes to con­sider the ben­e­fits and ab­sorb the costs. “Ev­ery­body do­ing busi­ness in Gaut­eng, in­clud­ing in­di­vid­u­als, are in the same po­si­tion. It be­comes a busi­ness de­ci­sion which in­volves proper bud­get­ing, de­ter­min­ing how much the toll in­crease will af­fect the busi­ness, how much cost must I [as the busi­ness] ab­sorb and how much will be pushed onto the cus­tomer.”

Since any busi­ness chooses where it does busi­ness, it also needs to con­sider the ac­com­pa­ny­ing costs, Schae­fer points out.

Rau ac­knowl­edges that Sacci’s mem­bers are obliged to pay e-tolls, but he’s con­cerned that about two thirds of the money col­lected will go to­wards run­ning costs such as e-toll of­fices at malls, while only a small por­tion will go to­wards ac­tu­ally main­tain­ing the roads.

“There’s al­ways re­sis­tance when­ever there’s an in­crease in tax or fuel levies. Busi­ness needs to ex­pect that th­ese things hap­pen, and not be sur­prised,” says Schae­fer. “Two years from now they will be ac­cus­tomed to it.”

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