/ 23 October 2011

Transport minister puts the brakes on toll road plans

Transport Minister Puts The Brakes On Toll Road Plans

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has ordered the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to halt all road project processes related to the tolling of national roads, his department said on Sunday.

“Good infrastructure is a necessity for a better future for our country but this requirement must not leave our people even poorer,” he said in a statement.

All spheres of government should be part of a consultative process with all affected parties, he said.

Forty two electronic toll gates have been erected on the Gauteng N1, N3, N12, N17, R21 and R24. The tolls cover a distance of about 185km.

There was outrage when it was initially proposed that users of light motor vehicles with e-tag accounts would pay 49c/km to use the toll roads, minibus taxi drivers’ 16c/km and bikers’ 30c/km. Vehicles without an e-tag account would be charged 66c/km.

Cabinet later approved reduced toll tariffs for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

It agreed that light motor vehicles would pay 40c/km, medium vehicles R1/km, “longer” vehicles R2/km and bikers R0.24/km. Qualifying commuter taxis and buses would be exempted entirely.

There would be a 31% e-tag discount, a time of day discount available and a frequent user discount for motorbikes and light motor vehicles fitted with an e-tag.

However, amid continuing unhappiness, the Transport Department announced earlier this month that a task team had been formed to look into the issue of toll roads and would include, among others, Ndebele and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Ndebele said on Sunday that all processes, including a consultative processes initiated by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, should be allowed to reach their logical conclusions to ensure that all parties concerned and their respective views were brought on board.

He said that while the first phase of the GFIP had delivered good road infrastructure, it was an expensive exercise that had drawn sharp views from the public.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) recently launched a resistance campaign 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. — Sapa