DA wants details on tolls

2011-03-23 11:10

The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants the Gauteng toll fee committee to provide full details on the costs and profits of the controversial plan to toll motorists using key highways around Johannesburg, it said today.

“The Democratic Alliance has called on the steering committee that is considering the Gauteng toll fees to disclose all financial information including costs and profits for all involved parties, both local and overseas,” said the party’s Gauteng transport spokesperson Neil Campbell.

In a document submitted to the committee, the party recommended that the national transport department be asked to contribute towards the R20 billion loan for the erection of the system and subsidise the interest.

It wants no value added tax as it saw this as a “tax on tax”. It wants a bigger investment in public transport in addition to Gautrain and Rea Vaya.

The fuel levy that motorists are charged should only fund roads and all research should be made publicly available.

The DA reiterated its stance that the toll fees would have a devastating economic effect in Gauteng.

“This toll road mess was caused by poor planning. We need full information to assess the real options in this matter so that road users are penalised as little as possible. It’s time the government realised that motorists are not a cash cow that can be squeezed forever,” said Campbell in his statement.

The fees were originally set at 66 cents per kilometre before a public outcry led to them being put on hold and a committee formed to revisit the pricing.

The tolls form part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which includes widening roads, easing congestion at bottlenecks and improving lighting.

Managed by the SA National Roads Agency, it aims to upgrade 560km of roads in the province.

In a statement, the SA Road Federation (Sarf) said toll roads were a legitimate form of raising funds for road building, placing the cost on the user rather than the tax payer.

“Doing nothing would cost billions in terms of lost business and poor productivity, in fact far more than the actual tolling fees,” said Sarf president Mutshutshu Nxumalo.

No one had suggested an alternative and treasury did not have the money, said Nxumalo. 

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