It does this by essentially operating two separate businesses: one for its non-toll road network, the other for tolled roads. Only a fraction of the country’s 750 000 km road network falls under SANRAL, but these roads are the country’s vital transport arteries. The two business portfolios are funded in completely different ways. SANRAL was recently allocated R12.5 billion as part of its annual budget to develop and maintain its 18 283 kilometre non-toll national road network. This is a government grant and SANRAL cannot budget for a deficit.
The 3 120km tolled network is funded through longterm bonds raised on the capital market, with debt being serviced from toll fees. The fundamental principle with which SANRAL has to comply is that the one business cannot fund the other. Cross-subsidisation is not permitted and a trial balance for each business is maintained.
Best international practice has shown that tolling is the best route to take when debts have to be funded and that the fairest approach is that of the user-pay principle – if don’t use the road, you don’t pay. The motorists who use these safe, well-constructed and maintained highways do pay.
The fundamental approach is that all toll roads must fund themselves over their 30-year lifespan.
Well-maintained roads that grow the economy, promote social cohesion, benefit people, create jobs and promote SMMEs are vital in South Africa. This is what the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) delivers.