Turning sections of the N1 and N2 highways in the Western Cape into toll roads will severely affect the urban and rural poor in the province, DA leaders said on Monday.
Addressing media in Parliament, the Democratic Alliance said it would use the intention to build the tolls, with no apparent opposition from the African National Congress, as a hook for its 2014 election campaign.
The DA is supporting an urgent interdict, brought by the City of Cape Town against the SA National Road Agency Limited’s intention to toll the two highways, set to be heard in mid-May.
City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for human settlements Tandeka Gqada estimated commuters travelling to the CBD from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha – Cape Town’s two biggest townships – could pay double for taxi fare should the toll projects be implemented.
“The proposed toll roads will have a significant negative impact on the low income sector of the community who rely on the N1 and N2 to commute to and from work, and for business purposes,” Gqada said.
“The districts affected by the tolls [are] Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, and also Somerset West.”
DA Western Cape leader Ivan Meyer said the rural poor could be hit even harder than their urban counterparts, given the effect toll fees would have on the agriculture sector.
“For example, a farmer in De Doorns transporting goods to the Cape Town harbour via the N1 for a round trip will cost him R744, and as we know 18 million cartons of table grapes are transported from the Hex River Valley… by around 5000 trucks a year, and we are speaking here about export grapes,” he said.
According to a University of Stellenbosch study, this could cost farmers an additional R5-million a year.
“What we are expecting is that the rural poor… they will have fewer jobs, fewer choices and lower pay and become more economically vulnerable than the urban poor and we blame the ANC…,” said Meyer.