Continue paying while we review e-tolls – ANC

2014-10-14 15:55

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Motorists should continue paying their e-toll bills while the system is being reviewed, the ANC in Gauteng has said.

“There’s a law approved by the government ... so they should continue to pay as we try to find a solution,” provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile told journalists at the provincial legislature today.

He was speaking after the African National Congress had presented its submissions to the Gauteng advisory panel on e-tolls.

During his presentation, he was asked by the panel whether the ANC would be willing to compromise on their stance on e-tolls. Mashatile said they stood with what the people wanted.

“Suggesting to our people that they would pay even if they don’t like it ... we won’t support that,” he said, explaining that the ANC represented scores of people who were against the tolling system.

“We represent people crying out loud for a burden to be removed from their shoulders,” he said.

Urban tolling would “kill the economy” and the current system needed to be reviewed.

Mashatile said lessons were learnt from the largely rejected system because the public believed they were not properly consulted prior to the green light being given to the system.

“We should accept we needed a longer consultation process,” he said.

The ANC said alternative methods to e-tolling should have been explored prior to the system being implemented.

“We aren’t opposed to the user-pay principle but to the current model of the e-toll system,” said Mashatile.

The ANC suggested a national nominal increase in the fuel levy or an increase in vehicle licence fees to cover the debt incurred through the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

The money collected could be used to improve the roads in other provinces too.

Speaking on the sidelines of the proceedings, Mashatile said the ANC believed it was possible to sway the transport department’s stance on e-tolls.

Last month, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters was alleged to have distanced herself from the tolls review.

The Star newspaper reported that during a radio interview, Peters said there would be no review of the user-pays principle.

She claimed Gauteng premier David Makhura had told her the panel would do an economic analysis of the whole freeway improvement project and not the tolls.

“But unfortunately for me, that panel seems to have taken a life of its own,” Peters was quoted as saying.

Addressing the panel, Mashatile said the current model of the e-tolling system was a “complete departure” from what government agreed to with the South African National Road Agency Limited when the project was mooted in 1997.

He said the two sides could cooperate and review the process.

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