Living at the right address and in the right location will always add value to your property. However, if government has its way, its citizens will be paying far more for the privilege.
The announcement that motorists would be charged relatively high fees if they wanted to continue driving on certain freeways in and around Gauteng caused a major uproar. Although there are foreign studies to support the idea that toll roads do lead to an increase in development and property values, you can’t help but feel a little sorry for those who bought property with easy highway access, hoping to save money by living near a direct route. These already overburdened taxpayers are not only paying more in rates and taxes on their properties than before due to the recent rates increase, they are now also going to have to pay a premium simply to get to work and back.
There are countless South Africans who believe that the money raised through fuel levies should be more than enough to cover the costs of road maintenance and new infrastructure. It seems that paying the odd toll fee when you go on holiday is one thing, but paying to drive on a highway that has been in existence for years is another. It may be considered a bit of a long shot, but it would be interesting to keep tabs on property prices in these areas because living close to what is perceived by many to be yet another cash cow may very well act as a deterrent to new investors.
While the toll issue remains an area of concern, what is even more worrying is the news that government is considering hiking property rates in suburbs that enjoy the benefits of the Gautrain. Not everyone who resides in these corridors utilises this form of transport and even if they do, the fact that they will have to pay a higher price for the privilege is bound to leave a sour taste in many homeowner’s mouths.
Given the lack of safe reliable public transport in South Africa, is it fair for homeowners to be taxed simply because they live near to and enjoy the benefits of such a system? Western countries, it seems, enjoy far more and pay far less for this type of privilege. According to a recent broadcast on Carte Blanche, a round trip between Soweto and OR Tambo International Airport during peak hours will cost motorists who do not use the e-tag system R51.97. With an e-tag discount the trip will cost R35.84. Similarly, a round trip from Fourways to Lynwood without an e-tag will cost R51.56.
There are undoubtedly going to be a lot of homeowners who are going to opt for an alternate, cheaper route. The question that perhaps needs to be asked here is: will living near a toll road system continue to add value or will those homes situated on or near quieter access routes become more popular and thus more expensive?
This is not necessarily an esoteric question. Government recently stated that it was considering raising land taxes on land on the Gautrain routes. Mayur Maganlal, the executive director for economic development and planning at the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) recently said that a possible source of additional revenue could be a tax on land along public infrastructure corridors, such as those adjacent to the Gautrain.
Perhaps the road less travelled will become the appropriate response by property owners to government’s move to place additional burdens on those living near the beaten track