A much better way to spend R550 a month

In gazetting its proposed new e-toll tariffs, the National Roads Agency (SANRAL) has hastened to assure motorists that the most they will be charged per month – provided they drive an ordinary car – is R550 a month.

And this is good news, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, considering that, even with an e-tag fitted, most road commuters in Gauteng would be running up much higher bills than that. At 30c per kilometre, commuting daily between Johannesburg and Pretoria for work, for example, would come to at least R720 a month if not for the SANRAL cap.

“However, even R550 a month – which is R6600 a year – is a hefty charge when you consider the current stage of most household finances. Already we have seen reports of people using credit to buy food each month, and it’s no wonder, since current estimates are that the SA family earning R18 000 a month spends almost R13 000 of that on housing (bond or rent) and to pay off debt.

“That only leaves R5000 a month for food, transport, utilities, school fees and other essentials, and the cost of these keeps rising much faster than the official inflation rate. For example, the prices of basic foodstuffs such as milk, bread, rise and maize meal have risen by as much as 56% in the past year, according to the Food Price Monitor; the petrol price (in Gauteng) has gone from R10,43 a litre to R11,97 a litre since January, and Eskom raised the price of electricity by 16% in July.”

In other words, he says, R550 a month would make a really big difference to most people’s budgets, “and our suggestion is that young families, especially, don’t just accept that they will have to pay this toll, but immediately make plans to use public transport instead of driving.

“What is more, we believe that if their area does not have a good public transport service, they should move to one that does right away – even if the rent or bond is somewhat higher.”

The reason for this, Everitt says, is that living in a walkable area where the shops and schools are close by and using public transport to get to work will actually save them much more than the R550 a month e-toll fee. It will also save on the running costs of a car (including petrol, servicing, insurance and tyres) which, according to the AA,now amount to some R2,41c per kilometre for a modest 1600cc sedan.

“And those savings could be put to very good use, first to help eliminate high-interest debt such as credit and store card balances,and then to either save up a deposit and buy a home, or deposit an additional amount each month into an existing bond and save many thousands of rands in interest.”

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