TRANSPORT: Toll Road Monopolies
Recent Western Cape Business News
THERE is a danger that toll roads could become monopolies and effective regulation is essential if they are to provide the affordable service the country requires.
This is the view of the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry which is concerned about plans to redevelop sections of the N1 and N2 as toll roads.
“The current dispute over the Chapman’s Peak toll road has heightened our concern about toll roads and it raises a number of questions about these roads within city boundaries,” said Gerald Wolman, President of the Chamber.
“We vigorously opposed the N1 and N2 tolls and we are still amazed that they are to go ahead despite the strong public objections and the opposition of the Chamber, the City Council and the Province. The manner in which the unanimous views of the public and the major institutions were brushed aside is cause for concern and we must ask what weight will be given to the public’s view in the event that the toll operators suddenly require a major increase in toll fees?”
Wolman said that so far the regulation of toll roads had been good but there was concern that it may not be as good in the future. He pointed out that the toll road operators would be in control of both the N1 and N2 and they would be in a very strong bargaining position.
“I know it’s unlikely to happen, but the consequences of some kind of dispute in the future could be very serious for some parts of the City,” he said.
“These are legitimate concerns and we remain strongly opposed to toll roads within the boundaries of the city. They have the potential to distort economic development and they are unfair to the people who have no option but to use them in business or for commuting.”
He said the Chamber supported the redevelopment of the roads but there were much better ways to finance the work. “We have argued in favour of a fuel levy because that spreads the load and it is a much fairer way to implement the “user pays” principle.”
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