OUTA wants to know How much are SANRAL’s toll road operators collecting, and how much do they hand over to SANRAL. OUTA has submitted a formal request for information to SANRAL, using the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), to get this information.
The most common form of private sector participation in roads is the concession. This occurs when a private entity builds, operates and transfers a road for a period between twenty and thirty years. The government pays the private entity for its service through toll payments from road users.
In South Africa, there are currently three routes operated by concessionaires.
These routes are:
• N3 between Heidelberg, Gauteng and KZN;
• N4 Maputo Development Corridor and the
• N4 Platinum Highway
The concessionaires responsible for the management of these roads are:
• N3 Toll Concessions – N3 between Gauteng, Heidelberg and KZN
• Trans Africa Concessionaires - N4 between Pretoria and Maputo in Mozambique
• Bakwena Toll Concessionaires – N4 Platinum Highway
OUTA is interested in the profit projections for the remaining years on the concession contracts. SANRAL has received a fixed amount from the tolls collected each year, whilst toll tariffs have increased by approx. 80% in the last ten years. Indicating that the concessionaires could be benefitting from excessive profits.
OUTA has written to SANRAL requesting information on the contract between SANRAL and N3TC. SANRAL has ignored OUTA’s requests. OUTA believes that the lack of transparency regarding the projected concessionaire profits for the remaining years of the contract is suspicious, and has therefore lodged a formal PAIA review application, in order to access this information.
SANRAL – N3TC
Following OUTA’s PAIA request submitted to SANRAL in July 2019, SANRAL failed to provide OUTA with a formal response as to why OUTA should not be granted access to the records requested.
Thereafter, OUTA filed its internal appeal against SANRAL’s failure to provide a formal decision in November 2019 . SANRAL’s failure to provide OUTA with a formal response is considered as a refusal to grant access to the records.
Based on SANRAL’s ‘deemed’ refusal, OUTA approached the North Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) in July 2020 in order to compel SANRAL to disclose the records so requested by OUTA.
The matter was initially set down for 7 September 2020, however, the matter was removed from the unopposed roll in order to afford SANRAL an opportunity to formally oppose the application. To date, OUTA has not received any form of opposition from SANRAL and will accordingly proceed to set the matter down for hearing again.
Although the court process has been hindered by an array of COVID-19 court directives out of our control, OUTA remains adamant that the records in question be disclosed by SANRAL as such records are well within the public interest.
OUTA submitted a request for access to information in terms of PAIA to SANRAL on 8 June 2020 in which OUTA requested records relating to the concession agreement between SANRAL and Bakwena.
SANRAL failed to provide OUTA with an adequate response, save for a letter forwarded to OUTA, dated 2016. However, the PAIA request referred to in such letter is not the PAIA request that OUTA submitted on 8 June 2020, but relates to a request OUTA made in 2016.
OUTA lodged its internal appeal on 6 August 2020, addressing among other things, that SANRAL failed to properly institute the relevant third party proceedings as contemplated in PAIA. SANRAL also failed to properly set out its grounds for refusal.
To date, SANRAL has failed disclose the records so requested by OUTA and has failed to address OUTA’s internal appeal.
OUTA is now in position to approach the court to compel SANRAL to disclose the records requested. Accordingly, we have instructed our attorneys of record to draft the necessary court application.
SANRALs Irregular & Wasteful expenditure amounted to R10bn in 2017
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