Hoorah! It’s Transport Month again.

JOHANNESBURG – October is Transport Month annually in South Africa and as is usual, it has kicked off to much fanfare at a New Age Breakfast Briefing held in Sandton this morning. This despite the fact that the fact that the “National Road Safety Summit 2014” which was due to run from 30 September to 2 October was summarily cancelled on 11 September and notification sent to some invitees on 29 September 2014, one day before the event. 

Several resolutions were adopted at last year’s Summit hosted by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, amongst them:

  • Sorting out the AARTO Act and its associated points-demerit system and getting it rolled out nationally;
  • Bringing about changes to the requirements of Professional Driving Permits so as to require public transport drivers to undergo specialised skills training and testing;
  • Bringing about changes to legislation to prevent the transportation of passengers on the back of bakkies and trucks; and
  • The formation of a National Road Safety Advisory Council.

This year’s summit has been summarily cancelled and/or postponed to 2015 “after serious consideration of the insufficient progress made on resolutions taken at the inaugural Summit in 2013 by various stakeholders and key drivers” says the letter. 

Justice Project South Africa, whose representatives wasted their time at last year’s Summit, wishes to express its sincere disappointment and regret that yet another “talkshop” has been allowed to take place with not one single agency being held accountable for the resolutions THEY committed to deliver on by the time this year’s Summit came around. 

NGOs have a role to play in bringing about greater road safety, but they cannot do it on their own and they certainly cannot make any progress without the cooperation and blessing of Government. For the Minister to cancel this year’s event in order to avoid embarrassment is not acceptable and bears testimony to the lack of any accountability that exists in the Department of Transport and its State Owned Enterprises. 

It seems that Government, (like JPSA to a certain extent admittedly) has been far too distracted by the importance of rolling out e-tolling which is seen as a way to generate revenue; to focus on road safety issues which typically cost money to implement. This is very sad indeed, given the fact that approximately 17,000 people die and well over 100,000 are injured on our roads annually. 

It’s also remarkable to note how many road traffic events have suddenly been taking place in the Northern Cape, where Minister Peters hails from, despite the fact that it is the safest province in the country in which to drive and the least in need of road safety projects. 

Until such time as individuals with the power to bring about change take real responsibility for the situation, nothing is going to change and blood will continue to drip from the hands that have played the proverbial fiddle and raked in salaries for not doing their jobs while South Africans get killed and mutilated on our roads.

Cancellation of National Road Safety Summit_2014.pdf (478.6KB)

JPSA not moved by “emotional blackmail”

JOHANNESBURG – On Sunday 28 September 2014, SABC News Online carried a short report quoting statements made by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters at the opening of the new RAF office in Kimberly, Northern Cape where she hails from wherein she reportedly said “if we say we are not going to pay e-tolls it simply means we should not pay the insurance companies their money.” 

Firstly, this puerile attempt at emotional blackmail is tantamount to serious misinformation; bearing in mind that ALL loans and bonds SANRAL enters into and issues are guaranteed by government. 

Secondly the use of the term “insurance companies” in the plural suggests that it not only the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which administers State Pensions, but private insurance companies have “invested” in this ill-founded and clearly collapsing, legalised Ponzi scheme, thereby affecting the pensions of private citizens as well as State employees. 

This is the first time that it has been so much as suggested that private insurance companies and pension schemes have “invested” in the GFIP and it is disingenuous at best to suggest that these “investors” will lose anything whatsoever, or indeed will not reap the rewards of “investing” in SANRAL schemes. 

If however what Minister Peters says is true, then it would appear that both SANRAL and the Minister of Transport appear to be preparing their “investors” for their intention to renege on their own terms and guarantees. 

The sooner these tactics of arrogance and melodramatics are abandoned and logical approaches on how to settle this debt efficiently start getting seriously considered, the better off everyone will be. 

JPSA is not moved by this attempt at emotional blackmail and we doubt whether anyone else will be either. It’s high time that Minister Peters, SANRAL and all involved in this ill-founded e-tolls scheme stopped assuming that everyone is stupid and stopped trying to flog the clearly dead horse of e-tolling.

SANRAL again expects its propaganda to be swallowed

JOHANNESBURG – Although it would not be accurate to say that Justice Project South Africa is in the least bit surprised at SANRAL’s latest disrespectful propaganda stunt contained in its media release of today, it would be accurate to say that we are not impressed by it. 

SANRAL has NOT “remained silent” on the Gauteng e-tolls review panel as is being suggested by some. To the contrary, it has previously categorically stated that it will not co-operate with the panel.   

For SANRAL to now come out with a hi-jack tactic stating that “The Board of Directors of the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) sent an 8-page communique to Gauteng Premier David Makhura prior to the commencement of the 15-member panel’s hearings” is disingenuous at best.  “Has SANRAL not heard of following up and/or addressing communications to the entity involved?” asked JPSA’s national chairperson, Howard Dembovsky, “When I wrote to the panel asking to make a representation to it on behalf of JPSA, I got a response within hours and we were the first civic organisation to get to speak and make a written submission to the panel on Monday 1 September” he continued. 

SANRAL again chooses to use words like “misinformation, propaganda and belligerence” in its media release today, while it is the one guilty of engaging in “misinformation, propaganda and belligerence”.  SANRAL seems to continually forget that, despite it not being a government department, it is a State Owned Enterprise and is therefore accountable to the people – not the other way around. 

SANRAL has already been found to be engaging in false advertising by the Advertising Standards Authority, its claims have been refuted in parliamentary answers provided by the Minister of Transport and it and its spokespeople have used insulting and defamatory language by calling their opponents by calling people “hustlers” and telling people to “raise their IQs”, etc. There can be nothing more “belligerent” than State employees insulting members of the public, threatening them with criminal records, etc. given the fact that the word “belligerent” means “hostile or aggressive” and SANRAL’s approach has been both hostile and aggressive to anyone who doesn't buy into its stories. 

Furthermore, SANRAL is again showing its contempt for due democratic processes and the public it claims to serve by once again attempting to hi-jack the process by addressing the Gauteng e-tolls review panel through the media instead of having the guts to make its representations to the panel itself. 

SANRAL is again referring to the outright lie that “the fuel levy cannot be ring-fenced” that it and Treasury has been perpetrating since this debate began.  The RAF levy is completely separate to the “fuel levy” and has been more than successful in financing the Road Accident Fund.  The RAF does not “collect the fuel levy or the RAF” either, the fuel wholesalers and Treasury do and it is then allocated to the RAF.  

What’s more is that Section 34(1)(b) of the SANRAL Act clearly states that: “The Agency is funded and provided with capital from the levies on petrol and distillate fuel to be paid to the Agency in compliance with or in terms of any law by or in terms of which that levy is imposed” and yet SANRAL chooses to focus solely on its legalised Ponzi Scheme of bond sales, where investors are offered an extremely lucrative return on their investment. 

The impressive piece of architecture that the SANRAL Central Operations Centre is housed in is largely comprised of glass and as the saying goes, “people in glass houses  should not throw stones.”

SANRAL’s Media Release:

 

SANRAL Board requested audience with Gauteng Premier on the e-tolling matter

 

Pretoria, 17 September 2014. The Board of Directors of the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) sent an 8-page communique to Gauteng Premier David Makhura prior to the commencement of the 15-member panel’s hearings.

“We took a pro-active step and communicated our position on this matter. We also requested an audience with the Premier to understand his position and exchange views on how, together we can address the challenges of funding road infrastructure without it being at the expense of social infrastructure. Perceptions that we were not prepared to enter into dialogue are therefore unfortunate,” said SANRAL Acting Board Chairperson Dudu Nyamane. 

As for a presentation by SANRAL to the panel established by Premier Makhura, the agency could not make such as the Board is guided by the SANRAL and National Roads Act, Act 7 of 1998, and is ultimately accountable and responsible to the Shareholder (the national Minister of Transport) for the affairs of the agency. This means that the position has always been clear: the user-pays principle is a national policy which was implemented with the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. 

“We do not take instructions from any political party, as was recently reported in the media, but from the Shareholder and the relevant legislation governing SANRAL. We are an implementing agency of government,” clarified Nyamane. 

The Board expressed its sincere gratitude to all road users – individuals and companies – that have done the right thing by registering for e-tolls, and/or paying what they owe for the use of the world-class roads between Johannesburg and Pretoria. 

“Do not be misled by the detractors. By registering and paying, you are making it possible for SANRAL to continue to fulfil its mandate by building and maintaining world-class quality roads. 

“The user-pays principle is a fair system that has made it possible to improve the vital roads of Gauteng – the economic dynamo of South Africa. To also bring sanity to the question of SANRAL and tolling: our portfolio is made up as follows: 85% non-toll, 14% toll and 1% e-toll. It is unfortunate that a single percentage of SANRAL’s work has been the cause of much misinformation, propaganda and belligerence - to such an extent that at times it threatened the mandate of such an important national asset,” averred Nyamane. 

SANRAL’s endeavours reach beyond the borders of South Africa, too. Explains Nyamane, “SANRAL’s road network is recognised world-wide as being amongst the best internationally and its staff allocate a considerable amount of time transferring these sought after skills to many countries, particularly on the African continent.” 

 She also clarified that the agency gets an allocation from National Treasury to look after the non-toll national roads (85% of its network) and also raises money from capital markets to fund its toll operations which constitute 15 percent of the agency’s road portfolio. 

“Therefore, the argument directed at SANRAL that it should fund the GFIP through a fuel levy is misdirected. SANRAL does not collect the fuel levy. Besides, Treasury has explained why it does not ring-fence the fuel levy and why, from an equity point of view, a decision was taken to fund the GFIP through tolling,” she concluded. 

//ends  

Issued on behalf of SANRAL

For further queries, kindly contact: pressoffice@nra.co.za