The Congress of South African Trade Unions is outraged at the news that Kapsch TrafficCom (KTC), the Austrian company that won the contract to build and operate the e-tolling system in Gauteng, made a staggering R1.2 billion in just one year from its South African operation.
And this was before the tolls have been implemented! How many more millions will they make if and when motorists start paying the tolls?
This revelation illustrates perfectly why COSATU is so opposed to the e-tolls and to the privatisation and commodification of our public roads, which enables companies like KTC to amass vast profits from the pockets of Gauteng motorists.
KTC operates all over the world - including Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland - but admit that South Africa contributed almost a third of its entire profit. The revenue of the unit within the company which is running the tolling project grew by 247% year-on-year, to around R1 589 million; its annual report admits that “this positive development resulted largely from electronic toll collection system implementations in South Africa and Poland.”
CEO Georg Kapsch boasted in the report that the year to March 2011 was the “most successful fiscal year to date in the corporate history of Kapsch TrafficCom”... The company can “look back to an eventful fiscal year in which we were awarded a large contract in Poland, extended our presence in South Africa, took important steps in the US in connection with our continuing global expansion and received our first contract in Russia”.
KTC won the tender to operate the Gauteng e-toll in a consortium with Cape Town company, TMT Services and Supplies, to operate the tolls for eight years, but then, a few months after being awarded the toll tender, Kapsch bought up the majority shares in TMT for R75m.
These figures will make COSATU members and Gauteng motorists more determined than ever to resist the implementation of these tolls. They prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the money they pay will not be used to maintain and improve the roads but to bank-roll the mega-profits of this Austrian company.
Roads are there to provide a public service to the people, not for a private company like Kapsch to make millions at the expense of the people of Gauteng. COSATU calls with even more justification and conviction for motorists not to buy e-tags, not to pay the tolls and for the government to scrap this outrageous project once and for all.