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E-toll contract to shed light on Sanral's expenses

The DA says it will be able to scrutinise the 6,000 page document for the first time.

The 6,000 page e-toll contract will shed light on the monthly fee the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) owes its subcontractors and suppliers. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has demanded its own copy of the 6,000 page e-toll system contract, which the Democratic Alliance (DA) is expected to receive this week.

The DA's shadow transport minister Ian Ollis said the party would finally be able to scrutinise the entire document.

He said the contract would shed light on the monthly fee the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) owes its subcontractors and suppliers.

"We need to understand what measures the contractor will put in place to recover the money that isn't paid or how exactly Sanral expects to deal with those administrative costs when it can cost up to R970 million a year. We want to understand exactly how that's going to operate."

Ollis said this was the first time Sanral has promised to make the entire e-toll contract available to the party.

However, he said he hoped no parts of the contract were blacked out after Cosatu received a copy last year with some parts made unreadable.

Cosatu's Patrick Craven echoed Ollis's sentiments and said he hoped this was in fact the full document.

"We believe there's nothing that can be regarded as national security being involved."

Sanral pays Gauteng's e-toll operator, electronic toll collection, and indirectly Austrian toll company Kapsch TrafficCom AG as its major shareholder for operating costs of e-tolls.

Ollis said the system was the world's most expensive toll collection system, adding it was inappropriate for a country like South Africa.

Sanral has, however, denied that the full document hasn't been available for the public to scrutinise.

Ollis also said the DA would appeal to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and President Jacob Zuma not to sign the e-tolls bill.

He said Zuma has not yet signed the e-tolls bill despite signing several other urgent bills, indicating there was still room for negotiation.

"The president has not actually signed what we commonly refer to as e-toll bill. The president has delayed on signing the bill. He has signed on many other bills interim but not the e-toll bill, which says to me that there is some room for negotiation."

Meanwhile, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) has welcomed the progress made by the DA to secure its own copy of the e-toll contract.

OUTA Chairperson Wayne Duvenage said the public is now one step closer to finding out more details regarding the contract.

"Let's see if we can expose what is really wrong with e-tolling, which we already know is very costly. There's far too much of the tax payers' money going offshore to enrich listed companies overseas. That's what is fundamentally wrong and makes it so expensive."

The Supreme Court of Appeal will hear the challenge, lead by OUTA, against e-tolling in September.