E-tolling Bill withdrawn - until next year
The controversial Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill was withdrawn from the National Assembly order paper virtually at the last minute.
Shortly after the Assembly convened on Thursday afternoon, the ANC asked that two resolutions paving the way for the Bill to be debated later in the day be withdrawn.
No reasons were given and the request was agreed to by the House.
According to a memorandum attached to the Bill, its provisions are essential to implement e-tolling and the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), as well as other proposed road infrastructure projects in the country.
In a statement later, Democratic Alliance spokesperson Ian Ollis claimed "pressure from opposition parties has pressed the ANC to withdraw" the Bill.
"After a call by DA chief whip Watty Watson which was supported by other parties, and a threat from the opposition to stage a walkout during the debate on the e-toll bill, the ANC withdrew the Bill this afternoon.
"This means that the Gauteng e-toll will not be the anticipated lump of coal in Christmas stockings this year," he said.
Deliberations in 2013
The committee's deliberations on the Bill would now continue in the new year. It could only be considered when Parliament reconvened on February 10, and would then be sent to the National Council of Provinces.
"This is indeed a victory for opposition parties and the South African public.
"We will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure that all proper processes are followed when this Bill is considered by Parliament in 2013 and that adequate public participation has taken place through the NCOP," Ollis said.
In a presentation to the National Assembly's transport committee on Tuesday, the trade union federation Cosatu also called for an immediate halt to the Gauteng open tolls for good.
"At the same time we call upon government to prioritise the roll-out of efficient, reliable, affordable, and safe public transport for all the people of South Africa," the Cosatu delegation told the committee.
Cosatu said it would continue urging motorists not to register with the South African National Roads Agency Limited or buy e-tags.
"Our members remain mobilised for a campaign of mass action if e-tolling is not scrapped.
"As a measure of our determined opposition to this regressive and disastrous policy, Cosatu will embark upon a national strike on the 30th of November."
Cosatu called for the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill to be withdrawn, and e-tolling as a method of funding public roads to be scrapped. – Sapa