E-tolls review panel finds system is ‘unworkable’

2015-01-15 14:09

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The e-toll system in its current form is unaffordable and should be reviewed.

This is the primary finding of a panel set up by Gauteng premier David Makhura to assess the implications of e-tolls on the province’s residents.

“While there is general acceptance of the user-pay principle and willingness to pay for current and future upgrades of roads and public transport infrastructure, in its current form, the e-toll system is unaffordable and inequitable and places disproportionate burden on low and middle income households. It is also administratively too cumbersome,” Makhura told journalists at a packed press conference at his offices in Joburg today.

Releasing the full report of the e-toll panel review, which he received in December, Makhura said the panel had made up to 60 other recommendations on how to improve the current e-toll system.

Gauteng has been at loggerheads with the national government since it announced that it would assess the impact of the unpopular e-tolls system on its residents. The national department of transport and its roads entity Sanral were initially reluctant to participate in the process, with Gauteng reminded that it does not set national policy.

Now the panel has concluded that the current system is unworkable in its current form.

“In this regard, the main recommendation of the panel is that elements of the current e-tolls system must be reviewed to address questions of affordability, equity, fairness, administrative simplicity and sustainability,” he said.

The province is now working with the national government, through deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s office, and the three affected municipalities – Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni – to consider the recommendations and their implications.

Makhura said he would also convene a consultative meeting with all affected stakeholders that made submissions before the panel.

This was for them to consider the recommendations of the panel, including best funding models for the maintenance of provincial roads.

He said the panel was concerned that even though freeways had been upgraded, they were now getting back to their old levels of congestion.

“Our roads are getting back to being clogged again. The panel says we need a massive expansion of public transport at a rapid rate,” he said.

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