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.”