Traffic Management Technologies: Putting South Africa on the road to better infrastructure

After much debate and controversy, Gauteng’s Open Road Tolling system has been given the go-ahead by Government.  In March legislation paving the way for putting e-tolling on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project into practice was approved in the National Assembly. For Traffic Management Technologies (TMT), the news was cause for celebration as it created an exciting opportunity to help develop an efficient system for South Africa’s busiest state.

The company, headquartered in Century City, Cape Town, specialises in supplying advanced traffic management and enforcement technology solutions and services.

The Gauteng project has been described as essential by Transport Minister Ben Martins, who suggested that the e-tolling system is necessary in order to implement the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and to facilitate provision of public transport and other projects in Gauteng.

He also stated that the non-collection of tolls might impact negatively on the ability of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to raise capital for infrastructure development projects.

This was the first project of its type in South Africa and one of the largest in the world. The project covers the design and build of an Open Road Tolling System for the Gauteng Province, and a National Transaction Clearing House and Violations Processing Centre, valued at R1.16 billion. It also includes turnkey operations of the project for five to eight years thereafter.

TMT was launched in 2002 when Douglas Davey (a civil engineer specializing in traffic technology) joined with Johan du Toit (a Traffic Chief) and Neil Louwrens (a State Advocate) to start the business. All three still hold senior positions in TMT today and remain shareholders. Their shares are held through family trusts (Zoey Trust, Gelaman Trust and the DT Transfin Trust) which they control.

The company engages in the design, development, manufacture, deployment, maintenance, and operation of transport management solutions in South Africa.

It offers integrated infringement management systems, transportation management SCADA systems, traffic data collection and processing systems, automatic vehicle identification and systems, transport technology facilities management solutions, and overload control solutions.

TMT is also experienced in the installation and maintenance of traffic systems, integrated electronic tariff collection solutions, integrated management systems, bus lane enforcement, traffic monitoring sensors, public transport systems, and accident analysis solutions.

The company is able to provide a number of services for law enforcement, including cameras, management software, data mining software, public transport operating software, and electronic toll collection products.

The company has aligned itself to a range of Wavetronix technology which provides measurements and real-time data on vehicles.

In 2004, just two years after its launch, the company sold a 51 per cent shareholding to Matemeku, which is controlled by Moss Mashishi, a well known businessman based in Johannesburg. The sale to Matemeku was significant, as it improved TMT’s black economic empowerment rating, paving the way for a broader set of business opportunities.

Today the company has a Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Generic Scorecard of AAA, Level 2 (a procurement recognition level of 125 per cent). Traffic Management Technologies has made a special point of promoting access to economic opportunities for previously disadvantaged population groups and roughly 50 per cent of its staff are reported by the company’s site to be female, while 75 per cent of management and staff from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

By 2007, the company had entered into a joint venture with Austrian company KapschTrafficom, to explore tolling opportunities in South Africa. KapschTrafficom had by then already built a strong reputation as a world-leading provider of electronic tolling systems and for the South African market, the joint venture formed a company called Electric Toll Collection (Pty) Ltd (ETC), with TMT taking a 35 per cent share holding.

ETC was used to tender to SANRAL for the design, build and operations of the Gauteng Open Road Tolling contract, winning the bid in 2009.

Gauteng’s e-toll will be operating as an Open Road Tolling (ORT) system, using the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) method. It is a multi-lane free flow system that allows for tolls to be charged without vehicles having to stop or slow down. There are no physical toll booths.

Overhead gantries are fitted with the toll collection equipment that will recognise the vehicle identifier (electronic transponder (e-tag) in a vehicle or alternatively the vehicle number plate. Toll will be deducted from a user’s registered e-toll account associated with the vehicle identifier and the user is able to travel without any disruption. This means of course that the system will not add to congestion on Gauteng’s roads.

Under the system, tolls are raised per gantry. So each time a vehicle pass underneath a gantry, toll is

charged. The cost per gantry is determined by the kilometre distance which the toll point/gantry represents. The toll tariff is calculated by multiplying this distance with the cents per kilometre rate.

This type of toll strategy, introduced for the GFIP, is referred to as a directional toll strategy, meaning that at a specific position only one direction of the route is tolled. Various toll strategies were investigated during the development phase of the project.

Having won the contract for the project, TMT was tasked with building a third of the GORT system, a sizeable task for TMT which was at that time still quite a small company. To help raise sufficient capital to undertake such a daunting task, KapschTrafficom invested in TMT in April 2010, giving the Austrian company a 56.8 per cent stake in the business.

The investment gave TMT further impetus and created job opportunities during the two year build phase of GORT and the ongoing eight year contract for the project. The build and operations phases have generated in excess of 400 jobs at TMT.

As part of its role, TMT plays an active role in the toll system delivery and operations entity, and has developed the Violations Processing Centre system and related operations. This aspect of the project is almost certainly the largest of its kind in the world, and involves a complex process combining debt recovery and legislated collection processes under the AARTO Act. TMT will equip an extensive on-road enforcement presence to be deployed together with a large back-office operation.

Traffic Management Technologies has played an important behind the scenes role as SANRAL strives to generate much-needed revenue to help build infrastructure. The company has service partnerships in place with over 20 municipalities and is a corporate member of the Proudly South African foundation, which recognises quality South African products and services.