The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) spent R177 million of taxpayer money on advertising in the 2015-16 financial year, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters disclosed in response to a parliamentary question by Thembekile Majola of the Democratic Alliance.
Sanral is currently appealing a judgment in which the Western Cape High Court effectively halted the agency’s plan to toll parts of the N1 and N2 in the Western Cape.
In September 2015, the court set aside the toll plan in a judgment and ordered Sanral to review its plans for the highways. In addition, the court ruled that if Sanral wanted to proceed with its toll plans it had to start from scratch and conduct a proper public participation process.
Sanral was subsequently granted leave to appeal the ruling and the case will be heard in the Appeals Court in Bloemfontein in the second part of this year.
In the run-up to and during last year’s legal process, the agency placed a number of adverts, including inserts, in Western Cape newspapers to explain the rationale behind tolling national roads in the province.
In response to the rest of Majola’s question, the transport minister further disclosed that the Department of Transport and its entities spent a total of more than R268m on advertising in the 2015-16 financial year, including expenditure on road safety campaigns over the Easter and festive periods.
Among the biggest spenders were the Road Accident Fund and the Road Traffic Management Corporation, which both paid close to R30m for advertisements in the past financial year.
In his Budget Speech in February, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan proposed measures to cut government spending by R25bn, including reductions in advertising expenditure.
The transport department and its entities budgeted close to R280m for advertisements in the 2016-17 financial year, of which Sanral comprises R175m.