INDUSTRY body NATROAD has backed calls by economists to “splurge” on infrastructure.

The topic gained traction in the national media late last week.

“NatRoad especially supports the call for infrastructure investment to be properly evaluated by an independent agency or agencies,” NatRoad chief executive Warren Clark said.

NatRoad says a regulator is “urgently needed” with control over the way tolled roads are planned, built and operated.

“At present, the process of deciding which roads should be tolled and how they are integrated into the road system is poorly planned,” Mr Clark said.

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The organisation believes an independent price regulator for heavy vehicles is also long overdue.

“An independent pricing regulator must possess a broad regulatory role including regulating and monitoring toll fees and landside port charges, given the current lack of transparency and fairness in setting tolls and landside port charges for heavy vehicles,” Mr Clark said.

NatRoad says a regulator must be empowered to solve the following issues with toll roads:

• The lack of transparency and fairness in setting toll fees for heavy vehicles.

• The lack of competition in private toll road operation.

• Heavy vehicle operators paying for road network improvements through increases in tolls without experiencing the promised efficiencies.

• Governments forcing heavy vehicles to use tolled roads by banning them from alternative routes.

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