STEPHANIE VAN DER PLANK
The situation surrounding the implementation of the e-tolling system in Gauteng continues to rouse opposition.
Initially, the North Gauteng High Court announced an urgent interdict preventing the system from commencing, only to have the Constitutional Court lift the interdict in September to allow for immediate implementation. The announcement by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on this implementation has been postponed several times to allow the IMC and other organisations to discuss alternative proposals on how to better fund the freeway upgrades.
However, despite these delays, it is becoming increasingly evident that government intends to roll out e-tolls. EWN reported that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s spokesperson Thabo Masebe said that the government has always seen e-tolls as part of a variety of mechanisms which will be used to raise money.
Recently Cosatu has been particularly vocal in opposing the e-tolling scheme. Times Live quoted the union saying that if the government were to implement e-tolling the opposition and its members would take to the streets. Cosatu said that they do not support the user-pays principle that has been suggested as a compromise. Cosatu Spokesperson Patrick Craven encouraged the public not to buy e-tags saying that there are huge numbers of people beyond Cosatu who are opposed to e-tolling.
Meanwhile Transport Minister Ben Martins has urged motorists to buy e-tags.
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) Chairperson Wayne Duvenage told ITWeb that their expert transport economist’s assessment of the system revealed that the plan suffers from oversights and is an inefficient way of funding the freeway upgrades. OUTA is expecting Friday’s announcement to see a reduction in e-toll tariffs. However, OUTA says this is still not satisfactory. “[A] lesser amount of the wrong method doesn’t make it any more right,” they said.
DA’s Gauteng Transport Spokesperson Neil Campbell said government should scrap the existing e-toll contract as the penalty costs for cancelling the contract will be less than the hugely expensive e-toll collection costs. He also commented in ITWeb that the “dogged determination of cabinet to stick to this overpriced, unaffordable and hugely unpopular toll collection system reeks of arrogance of the grandest order.”
If the system is put into place, motorists will be expected to pay at least 30c per kilometre to drive on some of the province’s freeways and a monthly cap of approximately R550 will be in place for non-registered vehicles.