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Sanral credit rating downgraded

The downgrade is as a result of delays in the implementation of the controversial e-tolling system.

A motorist uses the N12 highway, a proposed toll road in Johannesburg on Thursday, 15 November 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Ratings agency Moody's has downgraded the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral)'s credit rating and has placed it on review for further downgrade.

It says the decision was driven by the deterioration in the agency's cash flow.

The company now has a rating of BAA3.

The strain has arisen from the prolonged delay in the realisation of the controversial Gauteng e-tolling system, casting doubt on the company's financial health in the medium-term.

Moody's says in the past five years, Sanral has acquired debt of R20 billion to finance the project.

Around 50 percent of the debt was guaranteed by government, while the rest was expected to be payed off through the tolls.

The downgrade is not Sanral's first, with Moody's dropping their rating two years ago to BAA1.

On Thursday, the Department of Transport said up to 90 percent of motorists will eventually have to pay for e-tolls.

The department came to Sanral's defence after weeks of claims and counterclaims about the project.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) have attacked Sanral over its e-tolling research and the money it's spending on the initiative.

Department spokesperson Tiyani Rekotso says e-tolling critics fail to factor into their argument the economic effects of congested roads.