SANRAL will request that Gauteng road users register their vehicles for e-tolling. Road users will have the option to be recognised by their number plates, or by an e-tag. Photo:Velempini Ndlovu
The Gauteng e-tolls system which is expected to be fully operational at the end of this month will have a harmful effect on the cost of doing business, especially for small and medium businesses, experts said.
The South eastern Association of School Business Officials warned that the e-tolling would increase the odds of an economic fallout in South Africa, especially in the light of the ongoing crisis in Europe.
Shaun Oelschig, the union's general-secretary, said the increase in logistics costs would reduce the SA economy's competitiveness, as most goods were transported by road.
"For most businesses, whether big or small, operational costs will increase and there is no doubt that the added costs of services or transporting goods, such as foods, will be passed on to the consumer.
"The effects will be felt by all and even more so by the poor, as basic food stuff prices will also increase as a result.
"It will be too heavy a burden for the regular road user. Electricity hikes, higher rates and taxes, and increased fuel prices have already massively eroded consumers' disposable income. The additional burden will most certainly affect their already strained ability to service debt," said Oelschig.
Kevin Lings, Stanlib chief economist, said many businesses spent around 15% of their total costs on transport on a daily basis. "Transport is a significant cost for most business. Small businesses will be the most hard-hit."
He said even if businesses decide to avoid e-tolling and used secondary roads, that would result in delays and impact heavily on business."The key markets are in Johannesburg and a number of businesses have no option but to pay e-toll costs."
Business Unity South Africa executive director of economic policy, Coenraad Bezuidenhout, said if tolls went ahead, additional costs for business would run into millions daily because of the number of road freight trucks on the road.
The South African Chamber of Commerce said the chamber made it clear from the beginning that tolls were very costly even if they were reduced and had asked the government to delay its implementation.