E-toll billboards ‘work of cowards’

2013-10-07 12:15

The billboards erected along Johannesburg’s highways next to e-toll gantries are the work of cowards, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has said.

“[These are] people who don’t have the decency to actually acknowledge what the ANC government has delivered in this country,” she said at The New Age’s business breakfast in Midrand today.

“[They] want to focus on one aspect and turn an important infrastructure of the economic hub of South Africa... into a gimmick.”

The DA commissioned the billboards, visible along the N3 and N1 highways, and which poke fun at the African National Congress and its role in the electronic tolling saga.

The message on them reads: “E-tolls. Proudly brought to you by the ANC.”

The DA said yesterday that it had commissioned the billboards.

“E-tolls were conceived under the watch of an ANC minister, supported by an ANC executive in Gauteng, passed into law by an ANC majority Parliament and signed, sealed and delivered by an ANC president,” the Democratic AIliance’s Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said.

Peters said people who did this did not have a place in South Africa.

“We really don’t have time for such people,” she said.

Earlier, Peters said e-tolling in Gauteng would probably be implemented by the end of the year.

“Last week we finalised the regulations and this week we will be dealing with the tariff structure and starting the process to... publicise the tariff structure.”

The tariffs would be publicised for 30 days.

“After 30 days I’m sure it will take seven to 14 days to get the ball rolling,” she said.

The Supreme Court of Appeal reserved judgment late last month on a legal challenge to e-tolls by lobby group Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance.

Peters attributed the system’s high cost to the technology being used.

“It’s imported and we have to pay for it. Just like your cellphone, just like any other technology that we use.

“As a transport sector we’d be very happy to say give us all the money that the government has and reduce the money for schools, reduce the money for building other social infrastructure, reduce the money for pensions for the aged, reduce the money for feeding children in schools. Is that what South Africans want?”

She said the objective of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project was to decongest road networks. If people did not want to pay they could use alternative routes.

“We have also created alternative routes to make sure that those who are unable to get onto the freeway, those who don’t want to get onto the freeway, those who don’t want to pay, can use the alternative routes.”

Peters ruled out the suggestion the fuel levy be increased to pay for the system, arguing it would be unfair for the rest of the country to pay for Gauteng’s roads.

“Somebody who is in Mbizana, who does not even have a road to get to school, must pay for the Gauteng freeways... Do we want to exacerbate the inequalities in the country?” she asked.

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