BUSINESSES and individuals in the Free State province could be forced to pay more for goods and services originating from Gauteng should e-tolls go live on December 3, analysts have said.
Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt told the Free State Times this week that even though the direct impact of e-tolls on the people of this and other provinces could be minimal, the prices of several goods and services were set to go up.
“For goods and services produced in Gauteng, there will certainly be increases,” he said.
“But that’s not the real problem – the real issue is the social impact.
“The increases in prices should be minimal, maybe less than a percentage.”
Roodt added: “There could be a real outcry and many motorists are likely to resist the e-tolls and could be an even bigger problem.”
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters announced last week that e-tolling in Gauteng which had been postponed several times due to protracted court battles with the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) would begin on December 3.
The Outa said the proposed system was irrational, unreasonable and impractical and wanted the government to drop it as it would be expensive to motorists.
Several motorists, organisations, trade unions and political parties have expressed disappointment at the proposed implementation of the new tolls.
University of the Free State economics lecturer Jean-Pierre Geldenhuys said the introduction of e-tolls on Gauteng highways could see a marked increase in direct travel costs for Free State motorists travelling to the country’s industrial hub using their own or rental vehicles.
He said although he had not personally done research on the matter, the exact cost per motorist was expected to vary according to the frequency and intensity of travel on the affected highways, as well as the payment option that motorists choose to utilise.
“Higher transport costs for goods and workers using transport subject to e-tolls might impact producer and consumer inflation rates, which may affect decisions about the future course of monetary policy and the repo rate by the South African Reserve Bank,” Geldenhuys said.
He however said a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers economist Roelof Botha found that reduced congestion on the e-tolled highways could lead to increased productivity, thereby offsetting the direct cost increases.
The study also estimates that 94 percent of the tariffs will be collected from those earning the highest 20 percent of incomes.
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) this week said it remained opposed to e-tolls because of the high collection costs and the overall burden the tolls will have on the economy.
The business chamber however said that it would advise its members to abide by the law if the e-toll law is implemented on December 3 because of the high cost of non-compliance.
“Even though SACCI remains opposed to the e-toll system, it will still urge members to respect the law,” said SACCI in a statement released Tuesday.
“SACCI has been engaging with Outa at executive and board level on the issue.
“SACCI’s views are borne out by substantial research on global best practice relating to infrastructure financing and development.
“Our concerns have been shared with government.”
A survey conducted by SANRAL indicates that 83 percent of light motor vehicles will, on average, be required to pay R100 a month, with only four percent of vehicles reaching the cap of R450 a month.
SANRAL says for every R1 that is paid by motorists, 83 cents will go towards servicing the R20 billion debt for building the hi-tech toll system, lighting, providing on-road services and road maintenance, while 17 cents goes towards the cost of collecting toll fees.
Visitors to Gauteng who register for e-tolls will be eligible for various discounts such as e-tag, time of day and frequent user discounts and caps.
This option will be the cheapest for motorists who travel to Gauteng frequently.
Visitors may also purchase day passes ranging from R30 a day for light motor vehicles to R250 a day for heavy vehicles.
The day passes are not eligible for any e-toll discounts, though.
The other option allows visitors to pay the toll within seven days but that is the most expensive system.
Failure to pay within the seven-day period will even attract higher fees.