CAPE TOWN, May 6 — The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) the State-owned enterprise responsible for the management, maintenance and development of the country’s national road network, is to receive a 12.5 billion Rand (about 1.043 billion US dollars) cash boost from government this year, says Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.
Delivering her department’s budget vote in Parliament here Tuesday, she said this would form part of the government’s commitments to upgrade non-toll roads in the country. “The Government is investing R1.1 billion in the upgrade of the R573 Moloto Road,” added Peters.
“We have also set aside R12.5bn for SANRAL’s non-toll roads, which constitutes 85 per cent of the national road network of 21,403 kilometres across the country.”
At a media briefing earlier in the day, SANRAL chief executive officer Nazir Alli said any cash injection should not be misconstrued as pointing to liquidity problems within SANRAL.
“There’re two parts to SANRAL’s business. The one part is a non-toll road part which constitutes 25 per cent of our road portfolio out of a total of 21,403 km of roads and then there’s the 3,120 km of road which are tolled roads which is only 15 per cent of our portfolio. It is wrong to conflate the two and to turn around and say we are facing financial difficulty,” said Alli.
“We believe that in SANRAL … that we’ve been very prudent in terms of how we have managed our business, so we’re not running into bankruptcy or anything of that sort.”
Alli conceded though that they’ve been batting to raise money as a result of uncertainty over the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).
A panel appointed by Gauteng Province Premier David Makhura in 2014 made various recommendations in January this year on cushioning the impact of tolls on the poor and middle class in the province. These included that the current e-toll system be reviewed to ensure affordability, equity, fairness, administrative simplicity and sustainability.
“Unfortunately for the moment, no, there hasn’t been an appetite for our paper because of the uncertainty that has been created,” said Alli when asked if the process was affecting SANRAL’s ability to sell bonds.
“We’re very confident that once that pronouncement has been made by the honourable Deputy President (Cyril Ramaphosa) of our country that …. certainty will return and the appetite for our paper will return as well.”