Numbers ‘do not justify’ Chapmans Peak toll plaza

Cape Times
January 26, 2012
Melanie Gosling, Environment Writer

It would be “crazy” to invest R54 million in a toll plaza and luxury office on Chapman’s Peak where the low vehicle numbers are equivalent to that of a small city parking lot, according to the marketing manger of a national car park company.

The projected and actual traffic numbers. Source:http://www.iolproperty.co.za/roller/news/entry/numbers_do_not_justify_chapmans

Denton Farla, of Entelle Park and Security, said the toll could be collected with minimal infrastructure for an investment of just a few hundred thousand rand.

Instead, the government has given the go-ahead for a four-lane toll plaza and double-storey office to manage traffic volumes that amount to about a third of the vehicles that use the Canal Walk parking lot.

Residents say this confirms what they have said for years, that the “elephant in the room” in the toll issue is that the projected traffic volumes on Chapman’s Peak have never materialised. Yet the contract the authorities entered into with toll company Entilini was based on projected traffic figures provided by the company.

The average daily traffic figures on Chapman’s Peak Drive, based on the annual figures Entilini has made public, reached a maximum of around 2 300. Farla, whose company has parking lot contracts with companies that include Acsa, Canal Walk, the V&A Waterfront and shopping malls around the country, said yesterday that 2 300 vehicles would be equivalent to a small parking lot.

“A big parking lot would be around 10 000 vehicles. If you look at Canal Walk, figures vary, weekends are busier, but the average is 6 000 and 7 000 vehicles a day. These are operated with a card and boom system.”

Farla said 2 300 vehicles a day through a toll could be collected using a number of options. “We’re doing a tender for a provincial government now that is a tag system with an overhead gantry with readers that pick up the tag and deduct the money, and it can be linked to a credit card which can be pre- or post-paid. That would cost a few hundred thousand rand. This would be coupled with licence recognition cameras to pick up those who don’t pay,” Farla said.

Another system that would work on Chapman’s Peak would be to have pre-paid cards – commuters load money on to their cards and slip them into a box on the road, similar to those used at parking lots.

“It sounds crazy to me to invest R54m into infrastructure for that amount of traffic. It would take years and years to recoup. It sounds like a farce. It’s certainly not a good business investment,” said Farla.

Hout Bay resident Keith Fawcett said yesterday that the company’s traffic figures, projected over 30 years, had been used to justify building the toll road “and building the toll plaza and office specifically”. He said the need for a toll road on Chapman’s Peak Drive – particularly for four lanes and a double-storey office – had never been addressed. At every public meeting that he had attended, the public had been told by consultants that the need for the toll road was not under discussion, nor were the projected traffic figures.

“That is the elephant in the room, the big issue that no one talks about. Yet the contract with Entilini was based on these projected traffic figures and the office block is going to be built because of these projected traffic figures,” Fawcett said.

The traffic figures Entilini has released are several years old and the public has tried unsuccessfully to get updated traffic figures from Entilini. Residents believe recent figures will show the gap between the projected traffic figures and the actual figures.

At Sunday’s protest march, attended by more than 2 000 people, one of the demands listed in a memorandum that was handed to the Murray & Roberts representative Robert Pomario by the Civil Rights Action Group (Crag) was for the company to release updated traffic figures. By yesterday they had had no reply.

Crag collected more than 2 000 signatures at the march from those opposed to the toll plaza and office, and more than 800 on the online petition at www.civilrightsactiongroup.org

 

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