The winter of 2010 will always be associated with the FIFA 2010 World Cup which we proudly hosted with many images of our stadiums and the banner waving fun we had. Today, sadly we see a lot of other banners being waived about, not least are those of striking workers and for those living in Gauteng, the disgruntled news banners about the 42 Open Road Tolling (ORT) gantries which occupy our main highways every 7-12 kilometers.
Recently, there has been a rising tide of criticism on the Tolling (electronic) of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement (GFIP) and we at Avis have also aired our views on the subject. The debate about the tolling of Gauteng freeways is neither about the need for the Gauteng Freeway road upgrades, nor is it about not wanting to pay for these improvements but rather, it is about how these welcome road improvements should be funded.
Avis is a proud member of the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) who have been actively engaging (along with many other key transport associations like the Road Freight Association and Automobile Association South Africa) with SANRAL and the Department of Transport, to raise our concerns and requesting the authorities to consider an alternative road funding model to tolling.
The core argument is simply that SANRAL proposes to spend approximately R6bn over five years (excluding some operating costs) to manage the E-Tolling process and collect the funds for the GFIP constructions costs (of approximately R20bn), where after the current 5 year concession to ETC (Electronic Toll Collections Pty Ltd) will expire and a new tender will be issued. It is this unnecessary administrative burden of E-Tolling (in excess of R1,2bn per annum plus the excluded operating costs) which could be as high as R2bn per annum that is the issue. In addition, the implementation of a tolling system is far beyond just the tags, gantries, operational and policing controls and mechanisms required. There are the added costs required by business and individuals to participate in this elaborative scheme. Many companies and organisations will have to invest in both administrative and IT capacity to manage the tag process and the collection and payment of toll fees. The Car Rental Industry alone estimates that the initial toll tariffs will result in approximately R32 (10%) increase in the daily rental charge to customers.
The SAVRALA (SA Vehicle Renting & Leasing Association) view, supported by all its members, is that South Africa’s citizens could save the E-Tolling Management fee of up to R2bn per annum by introducing an additional but ring fenced amount on the fuel levy. The amount bandied about ranges from 10c / litre to 30c per litre, which falls far short of the amounts reflected by SANRAL, so clearly a degree of engagement is required on this matter as we need to know if we are debating about costs related to the entire country’s road infrastructure maintenance and upgrading or is it the GFIP.
While we seek clarity of the above matters and the debate rages on, it would be prudent of Avis to develop systems and processes to be ready for the implementation of E-Tolling and to pass these costs on to the customer - in an efficient manner as possible, in the event that E-Tolling proceeds. E-Tolling will mean that all Car Rental operator’s vehicles (particularly in and around the Gauteng Area) will need to be fitted with an “E-Tag” which will record the cost of the gantry charges incurred by rental customers during each rental agreement. These charges will be transferred to the Avis car rental invoice as a one line item. Should customers require the detail of the tolling entry, these will be retrievable from our web site by entering details specific to the customer rental and all information relating to the rental’s toll transactions will be provided. Avis will charge the specific gazetted gantry charges applicable to each gantry.
In conclusion, we understand and realize that there is a lot of noise and confusing statements raised on this matter. Please rest assured that if tolling is to be implemented, Avis will be ready with a user-friendly and transparent system to help our customers identify their rental Electronic Tolling costs.
Thank you for choosing Avis.
Chief Executive – Avis Rent a Car