New road taxes and 6 other changes that every South African motorist should know about

 ·2 May 2019

The Department of Transport plans to introduce a number of regulatory changes in an effort to cut down on South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking at the Motorex conference in Sun City minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, said that the transport sector is the most rapidly growing source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) in the country, and the second most significant source of GHG emissions overall.

“This is partly attributed to the high-energy intensity in the sector, which relies on imported fossil-based oil, and locally-produced synthetic fuels,” he said.

“The transport sector accounts for 10.8% of greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa, with road transport responsible for 91.2%.

To address these challenges through Green Transport Strategy (GTS), the department intends to achieve the following goals:

  • Converting 5% of the public and national sector fleet in the first five years to cleaner alternative fuel and efficient technologies vehicles, ideally powered through renewable energy. Following this, the department will aim towards a further 2% increase. “This strategy will ensure that we have environmentally sustainable low carbon fuels by 2022, ” Nzimande said.
  • Promoting norms and standards for fuel economy and putting in place regulations that promote improved efficiency in fossil-fuel powered vehicles with improved environmental impact.
  • A  30% shift for freight transport, from road to rail, and a 20% shift of passenger transport from private cars to public transport and eco-mobility transport. This is being done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. and reduce congestion. “To ensure that Green Transport Strategy is implemented we are committed to deliberate ensure that there is a shift from road to rail transport for both passengers and freight in order to reduce the heavy load on our roads,” Nzimande said.
  • Investing in green energy infrastructure like biogas filling stations, and electric car charging points.

Green Transport Strategy 

Published in February 2019, the Green Transport Strategy outlines governments plans for the road, rail and aviation sectors, with a focus on the country’s international commitments to reduce emissions.

In addition to a number of broader strategies  – such as encouraging a push towards renewable energy vehicles – the document set out some formal regulatory changes which are likely to have a direct impact on South African motorists.

The Department of Transport said that it will prepare the following regulatory actions targeted at encouraging the modal shift from road to rail and from private vehicle use to public transport:

  • Congestion tax – In consultation with local government, the department said that it will assist with ‘the development of regulatory and policy frameworks’ for levying a congestion charge on vehicles entering central business hubs. This will require support infrastructure including park-and-rides, integrated eco-mobility transport facilities, as well as bike and car share scheme development, the department said.
  • Environmental levy –  In consultation with stakeholders and the National Treasury, the Department of Transport plans to review the current levels of the environmental levy on new motor vehicle CO2 emissions and expand the tax to include commercial vehicles to more effectively influence energy efficiency and the environmental performance of the country’s vehicle fleet.
  • Licensing system –  The Department of Transport plans to develop a ‘regulatory regime’ in consultation with National Treasury for the annual taxing of vehicles based on their emissions through the annual car licensing renewal system. It added that it also plans to ‘enhance the regulatory regime’ to include a three-yearly test on vehicles that covers roadworthiness and exhaust emissions.
  • Fuel labels – The use of vehicle fuel economy norms and standards to label vehicles in terms of their fuel efficiency and emission standards will continue, the Department of Transport said. “Baseline studies on the implementation of more stringent fuel economy standards (such as Euro V) should lead to the adoption of appropriate greener standards,” it said.
  • Car life limits – The Department of Transport said that it plans to introduce car lifecycle limits on the road. While it did not provide exact details of what this will entail, it indicated that a car with an engine with more than 400,000 km should be banned from the road, or scrapped – similar to the current taxi recap system.
  • Freight – In consultation with cities, the Department of Transport said it will assist with the development of regulations to ensure that freight vehicles may only enter urban hubs during off-peak hours. “Research will also be conducted into the viability of re-introducing ‘road freight permits’ in South Africa with permit pricing reflecting the emissions for tonne cargo of freight vehicles, as well as road-use charges to internalise the externalities of possible overloading from freight haulers,” it said.
  • Road construction – The Department of Transport will develop green standards and guidelines for road construction, maintenance and upgrades. “This will include standards and guidelines on climate change resilient materials,” it said.

Read: Here’s how much South Africans are spending on a new car

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