Task team appointed to head toll investigation

Cabinet has appointed a task team to look into the controversial Gauteng tolling system, the Department of Transport said on Saturday.

“Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and others are part of the task team,” said spokesperson Logan Maistry.

Cabinet approved reduced toll tariffs in August for the N1 highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. These were expected to come into effect in the new year.

Motorcyclists are to pay 24c/km, light motor vehicles 40c/km, medium vehicles R1/km, and “longer” vehicles R2/km. Taxis and buses were exempted.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) recently launched a resistance campaign to the tolling of Gauteng’s major highways through social networking sites. The party was also planning protest marches.

Plans to put up toll gate structures on the N1 and N2 in Cape Town have also been met with resistance.

“The public has different views on the toll system and road funding is an issue we all need to discuss, roads need to be built, and maintained,” Maistry said.

Last week, Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus leader Jack Bloom said Gauteng Legislature speaker Lindiwe Maseko cancelled a debate on toll roads because the African National Congress (ANC) was divided on the issue.

“The ANC Youth League in Gauteng has opposed the tolls as have alliance partners including the SACP and Cosatu,” Bloom said in a statement.

Spokesperson for the ANC Gauteng caucus Gugu Ndima said the reason for the cancellation was to give the public a chance to comment on the tolling of Gauteng’s highways.

The sitting was scheduled to take place on October 11, where the DA intended to oppose the toll roads.

Bloom said Maseko neither consulted opposition parties regarding the cancellation, nor did she give any reasons for it.

“It is highly unusual for a sitting to be cancelled in this way, especially on a Tuesday when there are questions for oral replies as well.”

Ndima said the petition to cancel was proposed and submitted by the DA itself.

“Bloom is just creating a sensation out of this issue in order to score political points,” Ndima said. — Sapa

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