Review of e-tolls should be a lesson

2014-06-29 15:00

The promise by new Gauteng Premier David Makhura to review e-tolls should be welcomed. Although he has made no firm undertaking to scrap e-tolls, this is a step in the right direction.

It has taken a punitive drop in electoral support for the ANC for it to take people’s concerns seriously. For a long time before the

e-tolls were implemented, Gauteng residents voiced their opposition to this government plan, but were ignored. The court challenges and the drive-slows on the freeway did not stop the government in its pursuit of the plan.

The issue cost the ANC electoral support in the province, bringing its support down to about 54% from 64% in the previous elections.

The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) insisted that it had consulted sufficiently with the people of Gauteng and it had no choice but to go ahead with the implementation of e-tolls.

It is clear that, faced with the prospect of losing the big metros in the upcoming local government elections, the party is moving into self-preservation mode. The lessons for the party and for provincial and national government should be obvious for all to see.

The panel to review the e-tolling of roads should not resemble Sanral’s mock consultation process, which was a sham because the plan had already long been cast in stone. It should not be a process aimed at silencing protest for now and buying goodwill in the meantime.

Whatever recommendations and advice come out of the process should be taken seriously. The lesson is also that the days of policy imposition from above are over. Voters are getting wise to the fact that the vote is the only power they have, and leaders from other provinces should take heed.

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