Rage against the rip off

2011-02-19 11:43

Minister of Transport Sbu Ndebele (my namesake, even though we spell it differently), you have another thing coming.

If your attitude towards the rage felt by motorists and commuters after the announcement by the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) of a 66c/km cost for using the N1 freeway is “if you don’t like the toll roads, hop on a taxi, a bus or a train instead”, you and your government are facing a revolt never seen before in this country.

My initial reaction to the cost of using the freeway was that on the day the system is enforced on us, I will take my car and park it right in the middle of the freeway, wherever I find space.

I will also be forced to urge other long-suffering South Africans to do the same, so that the government can see something similar to what recently happened in Egypt when the citizens decided enough was enough!

How the hell can the government be talking job creation and poverty alleviation on the one hand while bleeding us to death on the other?

What makes matters worse is that this crazy toll system that is being imposed on us comes in the wake of huge petrol price hikes – from R6.62/l in 2009 to the current R8.99/l.

So, for instance, if I live in Tshwane and work in Johannesburg or vice versa, where am I going to find the estimated R1 200 to R1 600 a month extra it will cost me to travel between these two cities?

That is between R14 000 and R19 200 a year.

Mind you, Comrade Sbu, with all the toll gates spread over the 600+km between Johannesburg and Durban, I already have to budget an extra R300 for a return trip, besides the petrol.

Well, you wouldn’t know this as I don’t think you can remember the last time you drove that route as you fly on SAA, which is subsidised by the tax I have to pay.

For your information, on January 17 – in the middle of a month where most workers are broke because of the festive season and schools reopening – I coughed up R595 for the renewal of my car licence.

This is on top of the instalment I pay the bank for the car.

Don’t you guys ever get enough?

This new toll system is further proof of government’s double-speak.

Not so long ago, we were told to be proud that the 2010 Fifa World Cup had brought us such beautiful roads and infrastructure that would be a lasting legacy to this country.

We were, however, never told that we would have to pay through our noses for the rest of our lives for that legacy.
Yes! Some of our roads are beautiful, but we can’t be made to pay extra for them.

Mind you, this comes in the wake of revelations that construction companies colluded to inflate the costs of building the infrastructure required for the World Cup.
I guess as government ministers you do talk to each other and if this is so, your colleague from the energy department will inform you that it has just lumped us with a 58% hike for the use of electricity.

The cost of food keeps shooting up, as does the cost of education and medicines.

These are basic needs that we must provide for our families.

If you insist on making us pay this extra money to use the roads, then you will be adding to the yoke that is already feeling like the one the Israelites had to wear while they were slaves in Egypt, according to the Bible – a book you should be familiar with as a confessed Christian.

I beg you to change your mind, lest I and millions of South Africans are forced to go and dump our cars on the same freeways.

Perish the thought!

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