The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has dismissed as "grossly misleading" statements by the City of Cape Town, Right2Know and other interest groups that it will implement electronic tolling in Cape Town, as it has in Gauteng.
Sanral's head of communications, Vusi Mona, said: "Firstly, whereas in Gauteng we went out to borrow money in order to build the road, with Cape Town, we will be appointing a concessionaire on a 'Build, Operate and Transfer' basis.
"This means the concessionaire will design, finance, operate and maintain the road, returning it to the state in a specified condition at the concession period. "Secondly, there will be conventional toll plazas along the N1 and N2. The electronic or automated method of payment is a possible future consideration, dependant on traffic volumes."
N1-N2 Winelands road
Mona said the upgrading of the Western Cape's N1-N2 Winelands highway road network is a major infrastructural investment.
Road improvements include the construction of a 13-km new section of the N2 in Somerset West/Strand, and the provision of additional traffic lanes between Durban Road and the Koelenhof Interchange, and between Borcherds Quarry Road and De Beers Avenue in Somerset West, Sir Lowry's Pass to Houwhoek and Florence and Worcester
This also includes 14 new or upgraded interchanges, the provision of a second tunnel at Du Toitskloof on the N1, auxiliary and climbing lanes, toll-related infrastructure and equipment, as well as integration of facilities with public transport projects.
"It is always Sanral's aim that the users of the new tolled facility, be it a brand new road or an upgraded existing road, will derive a real benefit when using that facility, in comparison to what it was.
"Doing so requires funding and Sanral's allocation from the fiscus is about R10 billion per annum for the entire national road network and the N1/N2 Winelands project requires just about that amount.
"We obviously can't allocate our entire budget to national roads that pass through one city. The fiscus is under pressure and we have to find alternative ways of financing road infrastructure," Mona said.
Creation of approximately 5 000 jobs
The good news, Mona said, was that about 5 000 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the N1-N2 Winelands project. Of the jobs created, the majority will be for unskilled labour, which will benefit members of impoverished communities.
"Seventy-two percent of these jobs will go to workers at the lower end of the income spectrum. After construction, about 600 direct jobs will be generated annually.
"Also, an increase in productivity due to business timesaving as a result of increased efficiency of the network, could generate as many as 148 jobs by the end of the concession period," Mona said.