CEO of e-tolls collections company Electronic Toll Collection (ETC), Coenie Vermaak, says that motorists face a six hour commute between Joburg and Pretoria, with road network speeds dropping to below 10km/h, unless money is made available for Sanral to start the next phase of its Gauteng freeway upgrade project.
Vermaak has said that the non-compliance of e-tolls has effectively frozen Sanral’s ability to maintain and expand the country’s road networks.
He said that R22 billion originally invested in the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) has escalated to R40.5 billion, because of interest on the debt, Pretoria News reported.
And with phase two of the project postponed indefinitely, it will lead to congestion and impossibly long commute times. “People are already noticing the growing congestion on the highways,” Vermaak said.
“In the end, taxpayers will still pay for it. Even if we shut down the system, even if we starve it, we as citizens of South Africa will have to pay this debt,” he told a transport forum hosted by engineering group Aurecon.
“If you think about R40 billion debt, it will make SAA look like a walk in the park if you have to bail out Sanral (SA National Roads Agency) this afternoon. The consequences for us are terrible,” he said.
Vermaak pointed out that vehicle ownership in South Africa has doubled since 1994 to 12 million registered users, of which 39% are located in Gauteng.
He said that 220 cars are added to the network daily, adding that by 2037 there will be 3.1 million motorised trips per average peak hour in the province with the average speed falling from 47km/h to 29km/h by 2037, and a worst case scenario of 10km/h.
“Unless we get busy with Phase Two of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), which involves building 158 kilometres of new roads to redirect traffic away from the congestion areas, you better get prepared for a six-hour commute between Joburg and Pretoria.
“This is how long we project it will take by 2037 if we don’t address this problem urgently,” Vermaak has previously warned.
Vermaak said the GFIP network will consist of a 600km network with 201km of road falling into phase one of the project. The second phase of the GFIP involves 158km of new road which would relieve congestion in areas including Sandton, and link the three main highways between Pretoria and Johannesburg.
However, further upgrades are not possible, because toll road collections are only about 30%, Vermaak said.