Uprising’s costly aftermath

Imizamo Yethu informal settlement residents protested for better services from the City

“Hout Bay has two problems. The new one is access via the road from Constantia Neck where protests and disruptions have brought the question of safety into the picture.

“When safety is an issue people do look for alternatives and they find them.
“The problem is how do you win customers back when good order has been restored? In effect, the protesters are reducing the chances of employment for their own community. This is the message that has to be heard,” she said.

“The second problem is Chapman’s Peak. The toll road has been closed for repairs for a few weeks so customers from the growing population in the Noordhoek Valley are also look for alternatives.”

Exacerbating the situation, she said, were the increasing toll fees for Chapman’s Peak Drive.

“Going to Hout Bay from Noordhoek and back again adds about R80 to the bill for the evening. People resent this. And why do the toll fees go up each year? The justification for the toll road was the high construction costs which had to be paid with borrowed money. But those construction costs are fixed in history and the interest on the bank loans does not go up each year.

“This leaves Hout Bay relatively isolated and businesses which depend on casual visitors will suffer, especially in the present economic climate. It is time to do something about the toll fees.”

The new toll fees took effect on July 1, with operator Entilini saying the increase arose from a contractual arrangement between the Department of Transport and Public Works and the concessionaire.

“Discount tariffs are still applicable to users who have pre-registered with the concessionaire operator and who maintain a minimum balance of R50 in their accounts. Discount tariffs are only applicable to non-commercial use only,” Entilini said in a statement.

The fee for light motor vehicles is R45, up from R42 in 2016 and from R28 in 2009. For minibus taxis, the 2017 increase is R23 (R21 last year). The fee for midibus and small heavy vehicles is R180 (R169 in 2016), bus/medium heavy vehicle R450 (R422 in 2016) and heavy vehicles R450 (R422 in 2016).

While the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), which famously tackled high toll tariffs in Gauteng, deals with national issues and policies of tolling by SANRAL, it was aware of the annual toll increases on Chapman’s Peak.

“There is an alternative route. Chapman’s Peak Road as we understand, is a road with tourist appeal and requires significant maintenance to keep it open.

“The tariffs and its access are an issue that the local residents need to engage with the City on to challenge the fairness and limits of access to get to work and back on. If indeed there is an access and rights to transport which is being hampered, this is something that should be looked into,” said OUTA chairperson Wayne Duvenage.

“It does not have a formal position on the Chapman’s Peak route. However this is not to say we won’t look into this in the future.”