Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa will begin tolling road users in Johannesburg from April to help repay 20 billion rand of debt incurred in expanding highways in the nation’s most populous city.
The government will allocate South African National Roads Agency 5.8 billion rand ($727 million) to pay outstanding debt, helping to lower toll fees to 30 cents a kilometer, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told reporters in Cape Town today.
Sanral, as the agency is known, sold bonds in the past four years to finance the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project the helped to widen, upgrade, resurface and build 185 kilometers of roads around Johannesburg. The tolling system, which was due to start in March, was postponed after labor unions threatened strike action. Taxis and public buses will be exempt from the fees.
“This is an extremely generous and balanced way in which government is responding to the various suggestions and concerns that are being raised,” Gordhan said. “It is a win-win solution for everyone involved.”
Frequent road users will pay a maximum toll of 550 rand a month, while heavy vehicles can save 20 percent depending on the time they use the road, according to the National Treasury.
Sanral’s debt will increase to 59 billion rand, the Treasury said. The government will pass laws to give Sanral powers to enforce the tolling system, it said.
The road agency, which is responsible for maintaining and expanding the nation’s 16,170 kilometer (10,100 miles) of freeways, will spend 38 billion rand in the year through March 2013 on new roads and maintenance.
--Editors: Gordon Bell, Nasreen Seria
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