OUTA fumes at Kapsch revenue
"This is money that is being extracted directly from the pockets of hard-pressed citizens to improve the profits and wealth of overseas business," said the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) chairman, Wayne Duvenage. "The figure Kapsch mentions is around 45% of the annual running costs for the e-tolling system quoted by SANRAL and the South African Treasury,which depicts sizable profits for an off-shore company paid for by the Gauteng road user." he added.
Figures in OUTA's possession indicate that the e-tolling system will collect total revenue of between R3 and R3.5 billion a year. Of this amount, approximately R1.5 billion a year will be spent on the actual process of collecting tolls, managed by KapschTraffiCom. This high percentage (45%) of the cost to simply pay for the collection process is one of the key factors behind OUTA's opposition to the irrationality of the e-tolling system. "Every Rand we send overseas to Kapsch is one Rand less which is available for infrastructure development," Duvenage said. "And it is also one rand less in disposable income for the citizens who have to pay." He said that the scale of Kapsch's earnings left no doubt about the reasons for the high costs involved, making this the most expensive tolling system in the world. "SANRAL talks about improving the lives of the poor through e-tolling; how does sending over half a billion rand per annum into the coffers of an off-shore company improve the lives of the poor or be in the best interest of the South African citizen? It simply doesn't," he said.
Duvenage reminded the public that South Africa was one of the most unequal countries in the world in terms of income distribution and that imposing unnecessary costs on road users would only worsen matters. "Who could believe SANRAL's claims that e-tolling is beneficial to South Africans when the only proven financial benefit to date is to Kapsch?" he asked. "Kapsch's bold trumpeting of their revenue figures has unmasked e-tolling as a government-assisted profits for a foreign based entity," he commented. "If roadbuilding was funded from taxation, the gross waste of half a billion rand per year on a private overseas company's services could be averted," he continued. "In light of this new revelation, OUTA believes it is essential for the Public Protector, or possibly even a judicial commission of enquiry, to deeply probe the e-tolling deal. South Africa's citizens deserve to know why government has committed itself to outsourcing infrastructure funding to the private sector despite the vast wasted costs of doing so," he concluded.