Mar

Roll out eNatis to all our neighbours

2011-03-01 14:12
 At the time of writing, the Gauteng Tolls had been suspended.

It was recently announced that our eNatis licensing system would be extended to one of our neighbours, Namibia.

I agree with the AA organization that it is fantastic that the footprint of licensing is extended to one of our neighbours but what about the real neighbours – the countries like Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia who absorb so many of our stolen vehicles, specifically commercial vehicles?

Namibia and Lesotho, I believe, have similar size populations – in excess of 2 million people.

Mr Minister, let’s start with Lesotho. A lot of insurance companies would love to have Lesotho given an eNatis ‘˜bath’, i.e. all the vehicles be given a wash to clean out what is “right’ and what is “NOT’! (There would be a market “rush’ on Lesotho ponies, I think!).

On a humorous point, I remember a claim we had where clearly the ‘˜client’ didn’t want his truck brought back into South Africa for the repairs; we had to pay “Cash in Lieu’. I am sure you can guess why! Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how this was resolved. In summary Mr Minister, please can you continue with this eNatis roll-out?

Toll Roads/ SANRAL:

At the time of writing, the Gauteng Tolls had been suspended. Excuse my cynicism but I assume this is until after the municipal elections! Here are some points for thought:

  • If the government had wanted the public to accept this, I believe a new road network where the public had a choice to use it or not would have been swallowed far more easily.
  • It is clear that the public is generally very accepting of infrastructure costs. However, for the CEO of SANRAL to imply SANRAL is a non- profit organization is slightly short of the truth!
  • Transparency of the utilization, I am sure, would be well received. On this point, I glanced at the SANRAL AFS 2010 (reference SANRAL website).

In the SANRAL Annual Financial Statements (31 March 2010) – the latest – there are one or two items I want to highlight. This is a very brief overview and purely for discussion purposes.

  • I would have thought that a lot of the Capex in the projects at hand would be capitalized if these projects were not being utilized yet. The accounts show a loss of R504-million for the year on “Toll Operations’ because of the net finance costs of R1.5-billion.
  • The EBITDA is R1,38-billion which is an operating margin of 69% and after depreciation, the margin was still a very healthy 50%. Sure, the interest question I can’t answer but WOW!
  • Although R5-billion was spent on the non-tolled national roads – estimated at 13,050 kms – the map in the financials shows approximately only 50% of the national network is good. Luckily a small proportion is bad. If only 50% of the national routes are good, little wonder why all the secondary routes are considered to be in a very worrying state?

Summary:

My point in all this is that by admittedly, conveniently selecting certain issues in the SANRAL accounts and the fact that although the toll fees are currently suspended, we are dealing with our clients’ livelihoods here. Most of our clients are not in the league whereby they can simply cost in the extra toll fees. The big Groups can and do!

For the rest of the transport sector, on behalf of the vulnerable operators, this is an appeal to levy costs which are affordable and a real wish for the funds to be spent transparently! And don’t forget Mr Minister, to roll out eNatis in Lesotho.

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