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South Africa has another massive problem – its roads

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South Africa’s debt woes have been well documented, with government debt piling up and growth prospects for 2019 looking increasingly dim.

The country’s tax base is declining, while the likes of SAA and Eskom continue to drag on the economy. The country also faces rising costs to fix its large network of roads.

And according to Mike Schüssler, an economist at economists.co.za, the country simply cannot put all its road funding eggs into a single basket.

During a recent presentation at the Transport Forum, Schüssler explained that South Africa is an atypical country economically; a comparatively poor country but with the 8th largest pension fund assets in the world (in nominal US dollar terms), and higher personal car ownership as a percentage of the population than most emerging markets, including China.

To contextualise the road funding conundrum, he explained that in 2010, South Africa had 8.8 million registered vehicles on eNaTIS. This number has increased 29% to around 11.3 million vehicles today. And by 2022, he estimates eNaTIS will have around 45% more registered cars nationally to manage than it did in 2010.

With this increase in vehicles on the roads, the need for world class road infrastructure for the country and particularly Gauteng becomes even more pressing.

Schussler said the country’s total road surface of 475,000km had not increased much, while some roads are no longer drivable. Yet, around 80% of all South Africa’s land transport is performed by road, up from 73% in June 2009.

Conversely, rail freight volumes have gone “nowhere”, with only the Richards Bay coal line and the Saldanha iron ore line moving significant heavy volumes regularly.

R138 billion is needed annually to fund road maintenance

South Africa’s total road network replacement cost is estimated at R2.75 trillion in today’s money. The average road needs to be replaced every 20 years. If we replace the roads linearly over 20 years, we would have to pay R137.5 billion, per year, for the next 20 years, the economist said.

“In addition, to grow the road network just 1% a year would require about R27.5 billion,” he said. This means that total road funding required from motorists, without any leakage from collection, would be R165 billion.

The R165 billion is, however, only for roads and not for public transport.

In total, road users may have to fund another R19 billion to R21 billion a year for the public transport component. This increases the total costs that road users would have to finance to approximately R186 billion.

Schüssler said South Africa generally builds cheaper roads than Northern hemisphere countries. However, constructed with less bitumen, our roads have higher maintenance requirements. The average lifespan of local roads is about 20 years, which could be extended with good maintenance and resurfacing regimes.

He said that the country has a good road building industry, however road capacity is diminishing quickly due to funding pressures. Local government is also under pressure and is R13 billion short on operational budget.

“So they have to ‘steal’ from the capital budget,” Schüssler said.

We are using less and less fuel

Schüssler stated that total South African fuel sales (excluding paraffin, jet fuel and marine diesel) increased 50% between 1997 and 2018, from 16 billion litres to 24 billion litres annually – but the number of cars on South Africa’s roads almost doubled during this time.

According to Schüssler, the average car in 1998 consumed around 3,000 litres of fuel a year. By 2018, the average car consumed around 2,100 litres annually. In other words, the country’s vehicle park is approximately 30% more fuel efficient now than it was eleven years ago.

Fuel price would increase by at least 50% if the fuel levy were used to fund roads

Schüssler said that with fuel tax as the only method to fund the country’s roads needs – around R7.80 would be payable, per litre, in fuel tax to maintain current roads and support a 1% increase in the road network annually.

R6.18 per litre in tax would only be enough to meet our current upkeep and replacement requirements, with no growth in the road network.

He said that if all public transport was also subsidised – and if all taxis were exempt from the fuel tax – non-exempt road users would have to cough up R10, per litre, in fuel tax.

The fuel tax alone would, therefore, be a very expensive funding option – particularly for heavy trucks – whose operators would likely pass the costs onto consumers, he said.

This model also assumes that all taxes collected via the fuel levy would be used for road maintenance for the country. This money is not just for roads however and, like many countries, South Africa uses the tax to pay for public transport services.

“We have to collect money directly from road users in other forms: tolls, congestion, time-of-day, distance and other charges to settle the shortfall. Road funding in South Africa has to come from a mixture of collection methods and we have to implement these soon,” he said.


Read: E-toll debt decision could lead to a downgrade: finance minister

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African News

All Blacks prop swaps Highlanders for Hurricanes

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2019-06-17 12:14

Cape Town – Rising young New Zealand tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax has
signed a four-year contract with the Hurricanes through until at least
2023.

Lomax, who has strong ties to Wellington with extended
family living in Wainuiomata, will join the ‘Canes from the Highlanders
ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby competition.

After making his Super Rugby debut for the Melbourne Rebels in 2017,
the 23-year-old joined Tasman in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup and quickly
established himself as first choice tighthead which earned selection in
the Highlanders Super Rugby squad in 2018.

He was selected in the All Blacks last November where he made his
debut against Japan after a number of strong performances in Super
Rugby.

Lomax also impressed for the Maori All Blacks when he represented the side on its end of year tour of Canada and France in 2017.

Head coach John Plumtree was naturally delighted to have secured Lomax on a long-term deal.

“His potential is obvious for everyone to see. He’s a very impressive
young man who is developing his game at a rapid rate. He is a powerful
player, has a strong skill set and we are really excited about working
with him,” he said.

“It’s great to be able to bring Tyrel back to the Wellington region
where we know he will receive a lot of support and quickly establish
himself in the Hurricanes club.”

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WRAP: U20 World Championship | Sport24

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Cape Town – Dates, kick-off times and results for the playoff and semi-finals of World Rugby U20 Championship.

MONDAY, JUNE 17

9th-place
Semi-final 1: Scotland v Italy – 15:30            

5th-place Semi-final 1: New Zealand v Wales – 15:30
           

9th-place Semi-final 2: Georgia v Fiji – 18:00           

Semi-final 1: Argentina v Australia – 18:00           

5th-place Semi-final 2: Ireland v England – 20:30            

Semi-final 2: South Africa v France – 20:30


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Phoenix mayor apologises after US police threaten to shoot black family

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Police officers confront a woman holding a babyImage copyright
CBS

Image caption

The mayor of Phoenix has apologised over the video

The mayor of the US city of Phoenix has apologised after a video allegedly showing police threatening to shoot a black family went viral.

Officers were responding to an alleged shoplifting incident last month when the video was recorded.

The parents claim they did not notice that their four-year-old daughter had taken a doll from a Dollar Store.

Mayor Kate Gallego said the officers’ actions were “completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional”.

In the video, officers can be seen shouting at the family to get out of their vehicle before threatening to shoot them.

A woman, Iesha Harper, can then be seen emerging from the car with two young children. The children are handed to a bystander and Ms Harper is arrested.

The footage also shows another man, Dravon Ames, being kicked in the legs as he is handcuffed by an officer.

Ms Gallego said in a statement: “There is no situation in which this behaviour is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.

“I am deeply sorry for what this family went through and I apologise to our community.”

She said that the city was speeding up the implementation of body-worn cameras. A community meeting about the incident will also be held on Tuesday.

Ms Harper, who is pregnant, told CNN: “I really thought he was going to shoot me in front of the kids.”

She said that she gave her two children to a bystander as she “didn’t trust the police”.

Phoenix police chief Jeri Williams said on local news that she was “sorry this incident happened” and that it was being investigated.

The officers involved have been assigned desk duty while the investigation takes place.

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