A dense fog still hangs over freeway e-tolls

30 May 2021 - 00:00 By Sunday Times Editorial

They are not a sight for sore eyes, those gantries on Gauteng freeways. They were meant to be cutting edge that didn't require a stop but still took your money. The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Plan looked good on paper. The government would upgrade highways to reduce congestion and make a journey quick and without too much stress. The cost, however, would be high: an initial R20bn borrowed by the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral). The amount would rise when interest and maintenance costs were added. Revenue from tolls would fund this on a user-pay principle.

The problem was that freeway improvements did not ease congestion. The M1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria remains the busiest highway in SA, if not the continent. Even a high-speed train between the two cities failed to have a meaningful impact on road congestion...

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