Chappies rate rise

A substantial charge increase is expected for motorists who use Chapman's Peak Drive.

Hout Bay residents are fortunate enough to have Chapman’s Peak Drive – one of the world’s most spectacular marine drives – right on their doorstep but increasing toll fees on the nine kilometre stretch with its 114 curves, have caused many locals to use alternative routes, saying they refuse to be ripped off.

While road users understand the need to maintain the road on the Atlantic coastline between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, the news of a toll increase effective today, Friday July 1, is not welcomed.

According to the Department of Transport and Public Works, motorists will now pay R42 for a one-way trip from Hout Bay to Noordhoek and vice versa while motorcyclists will pay R27 and registered minibus taxis R21.

And although reduced tariffs are offered for frequent users and Wild Card holders, the discounts are only beneficial if more than 27 trips are made a month.

While some Hout Bay residents said it was acceptable others thought the tariffs were excessive and a rip-off and questioned why cyclists were not charged and why the toll fee of the Huguenot Tunnel — an extension of the road on the N1 through the Du Toitskloof mountains that separate Paarl from Worcester – were less when it seemed the maintenance was more.

Hout Bay resident Cassandra Veldtman said she travels to Noordhoek and back three times a week and will now have to look at using Ou Kaapse Weg as the toll fee is excessive and will now cost her R252 a week.

She said Hout Bay and Noordhoek residents should be able to get special rates besides the frequent user card, especially if they travel back and fourth on a daily basis.

“I am sorry but this toll is a total rip-off even with the frequent user card. I now have to go the long way around which is absolutely ridiculous when it literally takes me 15 minutes over Chappies into Noordhoek,” she said.

Guido Coza questioned how it was possible that Chapman’s Peak Drive toll fees were more than that of the Huguenot Tunnel which is R33.50 for light vehicle motors, minibus taxis and motorcycles. The tunnel is almost four kilometres long and has a twin tube set-up, 24-hour lighting, a ventilating system and CCTV monitoring along with escorts for dangerous goods vehicles.

Doreen Malan said she is a Wild Card holder and receives a discount from the first trip every month, however, she only benefits from the lowest tariff which is R5.50 after doing 27 trips a month. “It’s still annoying but not as bad,” she said.

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Jay Reeler said it seemed worthwhile to him although he only travelled along Chappies occasionally.

“The cost of going the long way via Silvermine (Ou Kaapse Weg) is lower, but I appreciate the fact that maintaining the road is expensive.

“Moreover, if the road were free, it could mean a huge increase in traffic, given that it is a shortcut,” he said.

Bianca Brocklebank, also from Hout Bay, said her “other half” lives in Sun Valley and she makes the drive almost every day.

She said although the drive is a beautiful one the fees are absolutely ridiculous. “I would be happy to pay a small amount because maintenance and safety is important but R42 and the cost of fuel every day is so expensive.

“Tourists on tour buses and car loads of tourists should be charged more,” she said.

She too is in favour of local rates and suggests local motorists should be able to buy a sticker indicating that they are local.

Community Cohesion’s Bronwyn Moore said some counsellors and social workers work in Masiphumelele and Ocean View and the costs are eating into the NGO’s funds quite drastically.

“We can go the longer route but it often comes down to time efficiency,” she said.

Thor Pedersen said he drives over Chappies once a week and on most weekends. “To pay R40 one way is a rip-off. Sometimes I am there for just an hour or so and I really feel ripped off at having to pay R80 there and back.”

He said the prices were aimed at tourists and he did not see the need for any price increase and questioned what the increase was for.

Byron la Hoe, spokesman for the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works, said the contract between the department and Entilini provides for an inflation-linked annual increase in toll fees plus 0.4 percent.

Mr La Hoe said registered frequent users receive a discount with effect from the fourth trip in a calendar month and the size of the discount increases with the number of trips while road users with a valid Wild Card – who have registered with Entilini – receive a discount from the first trip.

Mr La Hoe added: “The toll fees are allocated in a number of ways – 32.5 percent goes towards debt servicing and repayment. The project has a current debt of approximately R100m, which is CPi based debt from pension funds. The higher the CPi, the higher the repayments.”

He added that 10 percent is towards asset depreciation; 1.25 percent is towards bank charges for processing of credit card toll fee payment; 2.5 percent is towards professional and independent engineer inspection and review fees; 5 percent is towards concession management and accounting function; 0.5 percent is towards asset insurance. 10 percent is towards catch fence maintenance, minor repair and corrosion replacement provision. 7.5 percent is towards road upgrade reserve account provision which includes rehabs, upgrades scheduled in year 15 and year 25. A total of 27.5 percent is towards the operators fee for toll collection and toll road maintenance while 3.25 percent is towards sundry expenses.

Mark Jacobs, the general manager for Entilini Operations, said the reason cyclists aren’t charged is because they don’t contribute to wear-and-tear of the road.

“I will just say users with vehicles pay for the upkeep of the road, cyclist have very little impact in this regard”.

Wild Cards may be obtained from South African National Parks or Cape Nature.

According to wildcard.co.za, prices for a Wild Card vary from R420 for one person for a Cape Nature cluster which gives the card holder access to 24 of Cape Nature’s parks and reserves in the Western Cape to as much as R1 920 for one person for an international all parks cluster which give the holder access to 80+ parks and reserves around southern Africa, which are included in the SANParks, Msinsi, EKZNWildlife, Cape Nature and Swazi clusters parks.

Mr La Hoe added that road users who registered as frequent users can use a credit card or a card supplied by the operator. If they use the operator’s card, the card must have R50 in credit plus the equivalent of one standard trip toll. No deposit is needed if a credit card is used.

Side Bar:

This is what Hout Bay residents had to say on community Facebook groups, Hout Bay Organised and Hout Bay Complete, about the toll increase of Chapman’s Peak Drive.

(blob) Richard Lowndes – The only routes to and from the “deep South” (Ou Kaapse Weg or via Kalk Bay) are way over capacity, yet the DA-run province keeps Chappies as a toll road. No sense, no vision.

(blob) Patience Gertse – Total rip-off. Why are we actually paying and who is benefiting? Surely not the community as was the initial intention? I mean R80 up and down was bad enough. I feel as locals we should be getting a big fat discount!

(blob) King Fisher -I know a lot of people that will not use Chappies on principle. It is surely far and away the most expensive toll road in South Africa. R42 equates to R6 per kilometre. And they didn’t even build the road or earn the right to charge for it. Go to hell Entilini.

(blob) Lee-Ann Kannemeyer Stephanou – It’s ridiculous. I live in Hout Bay and my daughter is at school in Noordhoek. Two families in lift club so the frequent user only kicks in late in the month. It is exorbitant.

(blob) Merle Anne Piner – These increases must stop now – every time they put a rock out of place back the fee goes up – we need to take our mountain and heritage back from the thieving morons – boycott it and don’t pay – what a disgusting thing … I absolutely love this beautiful mountain and remember the picnics there as a child when the baboons roamed freely and the bambi sign for “no fires” we’re up – now it is seriously messed up. We want our Chappies back and for FREE!

(blob) Claudia Uffhaus – CRAZY! Gone are the days of free Chappies drives, which I can understand. But this is just getting out of control!

(blob) Deon Botha – I would be interested in what the actual community benefit translated to. The tolling concession contract was granted on the back of local beneficiaries benefiting from the profits. Last time I heard these benefits had to be pried out of the contractor with a court case.