E-tolls ‘unaffordable, cumbersome’, says premier

The e-tolling system placed a disproportionate burden on low and middle income households, Gauteng premier David Makhura said on Thursday.

“In its current form, the e-toll system is unaffordable and inequitable and places disproportionate burden on low and middle income households,” he said. “It is also administratively too cumbersome.”

Makhura was addressing media in Johannesburg on findings and recommendations following a report by a panel which reviewed the socio-economic impact of the e-tolls last year.

However, the implementation of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) had benefited the economy and people in Gauteng. He said road quality was better, travel time was reduced, fuel efficiency improved, vehicle operating costs reduced and logistics efficiency for business improved.

The panel had made over 50 recommendations. “The main recommendation of the panel is that elements of the current e-toll system must be reviewed to address the questions of affordability, equity, fairness, administrative simplicity and sustainability,” he said.

Impact
Some of the recommendations included issues of public transport infrastructure, environmental sustainability and spatial integration of the Gauteng province.

The panel was appointed on July 17 to examine the economic and social impact of the GFIP and the e-tolling system set up to fund it. It presented the report to Makhura on November 30. Its contents were not made public. There has been a public outcry over the implementation of e-tolls on Gauteng’s highways, with many motorists refusing to pay their bills. Panel chairperson Prof Muxe Nkondo handed the panel’s final report to Makhura in Parktown, Johannesburg, on November 30.

Victory for the poor
The report on e-tolls released by Makhura is a victory for poor and working class people, the South African Communist Party (SACP) said on Friday.

“We believe this is a victory for the poor and working people in the province, considering the fact that e-tolls were presented as … being non-negotiable and cast in stone,” said provincial spokesperson Lucian Segami.

The SACP welcomed the “strong and decisive leadership” by provincial government in appointing the panel. The SACP reiterated that the solution for the poor would not be found in e-tolling, but rather in an “integrated, sustainable, safe, efficient and effective public transport system”.

Makhura said the main recommendation of the panel was that elements of the current e-toll system be reviewed to address questions of affordability, equity, fairness, administrative simplicity and sustainability. – Sapa

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