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Pretoria – The South African National Roads Agency Limited says that reports that it has run out of money are factually incorrect.

Sanral's head of communications, Vusi Mona, said in a statement on Thursday that Sanral operates two portfolios - toll roads and non-toll roads.

“The non-toll portfolio consists of funds from the national fiscus, received from National Treasury, to the amount of approximately R10 billion per annum. These funds are used by Sanral to manage its non-toll network, which accounts for 84% (16 584 km) of the total national road network of 19 704 km,” Mona said.

He said there were no funding challenges with the agency's non-toll portfolio. “These funds are used for non-toll roads only and the agency continues to run its business as per usual with the funds received from the national fiscus.”

The second portfolio accounts for 16% of the total road network, and constitutes of agency tolls (1 832 km) and those run by concessionaires (1 288 km). The agency tolls are financed through the capital markets by issuing bonds and the ones operated by the concessionaires are financed through private sector capital on a build, operate and transfer basis.

Mona said it was important to note that there was no cross-subsidisation of funds between the toll portfolio and the non-toll portfolio.

With regards to its toll portfolio, Sanral has almost totally depleted its available cash. Sanral is not able to fund itself through the capital markets under the present circumstances. It is for this reason that the agency has not been to the markets since October 2011.

“Notwithstanding our challenges on the capital markets we are grateful for the assistance from the commercial markets,” Mona said.

That has meant that the future growth of road networks could not be undertaken without Sanral's ability to raise third party funding. Parliament had to make a special appropriation of an additional R5.7 billion to meet Sanral’s current interest and cost liabilities.

“If Sanral is to deliver on its mandate, it is vital that e-tolling must go-ahead. It is disingenuous of OUTA [Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance] to blame the agency of trying to use the toll portfolio's financial challenges to force the President's hand to sign the Transport and Related Matters Amendment Bill. Sanral implements government policy," Mona said.

“At this stage, Sanral is awaiting the signing of the Bill by the President. Thereafter, the Minister [of Transport] may conclude the process to publish the final regulations and notices. Once published, tolls will commence within 14 days of the date of publishing,” said Mona. -