RMI: 'Toll process unacceptable'

2011-07-04 10:16
NOT GOOD ENOUGH: While the RMI welcomed  the proposed reduced rates for the system of e-tolls rolled out across the Gauteng province, it said the decision-making process is flawed.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH: While the RMI welcomed the proposed reduced rates for the system of e-tolls rolled out across the Gauteng province, it said the decision-making process is flawed.

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The Retail Motor Industry has hit out at the process by which the proposed e-toll tariffs were presented.

The revised rates for the controversial e-tolling system for Gauteng’s Freeway Improvement Project were announced on Thursday, June 30. However, these proposed rates were submitted to the transport and finance ministers, and the premier of Gauteng, for final review.

The transport department’s director general and the chairperson of the steering committee of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, George Mahlalela, said the process would now be steered through cabinet by the national transport minister, Sibusiso Ndebele.

NO PARTICIPATION

RMI CEO Jeff Osborne said:  “Stakeholders were limited to information-sharing instead of participation.”

Osborne added that the rates were decided before a task group was allowed to provide its input and said points raised by the majority of stakeholders had not been taken on board. He also said that an embargo on access to many of the input studies mentioned in the report prevented stakeholders from seeing how their input was interpreted.

No stakeholders except those in the government were invited to join the steering committee and its report did not address the complexity of the tariff structures, Osborne added.

BETTER OPTIONS

Osborne also said the revised tariffs fall short of stakeholders’ expectations and there was insufficient information about possible changes to the off-peak and frequent-user discounts. He was in favour of an across-the-board toll of 10c/km, questioning whether the steering committee understood how such a steep additional cost would affect people.

“They (commuters) already have electricity hikes, and increases in rates and taxes to contend with. With these revisions, the poor will become poorer,” Osborne lamented.

There are other methods of raising the funds, Osborne said, and noted that most stakeholders favoured a ring-fenced fuel levy as the better option.

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