PLANS to toll the R72 coastal road between Port Elizabeth and East London have been put on hold.

Replying to a written question in the National Assembly last week, Transport Minister Ben Martins said the viability study by the South African Roads Agency (Sanral) found the project would not be feasible as a self-financing toll road.

“Given the financial constraints, the project may in the future be considered for implementation as a toll project based on a hybrid funding model,” said Martins.

The halting of the project is good news for business and private motorists because it means no extra costs will be incurred for now on trips between East London and Port Elizabeth.

Les Holbrook, CEO of the Border-Kei Chamber of Business (BKCOB), said he was in favour of the idea of tolling the R72 because it had potholes.

He said a tollgate would improve the quality and safety of the road.

“Since we don’t have tollgates in the Eastern Cape I wouldn’t complain too much because we need good quality roads,” he said.

He said a toll road was a good idea as long as it was made affordable for motorists and truck drivers who used the road.

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Pine Pienaar said the party welcomed the announcement to can the idea though as motorists were already cash-strapped.

“The DA has been of the opinion the tolling of the R72 would not be viable and would result in exorbitant costs to motorists,” said Pienaar, adding it would also create a logistical nightmare for the coastal villages along the route.

“To successfully toll a road, 4 000 vehicles should use it daily. According to research the R72 carries 2 000 vehicles per day,” he said.

Pienaar said since the province was geared towards investment and economic growth, placing a further burden on motorists such as tolling the R72 road would discourage investors.

“The DA will closely monitor any future developments in this direction and remains strongly opposed to any plans to toll the R72 unless there is an alternative route and proper consultation takes place with all stakeholders,” said Pienaar.

Sanral could not be reached for comment by the time of going to press. —