Guest Column

E-tolls: ANC holds road users hostage

2015-05-20 18:31
Picture: Trevor Kunene/Daily Sun

Picture: Trevor Kunene/Daily Sun

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By Muhammad Noormahomed, City Press

What was the ANC thinking when it decided to review e-tolls, only to shove a different but still unpalatable version of the system down Gautengers throats?

After suffering a scare in the 2014 general elections, the Gauteng government thought it would regain voters’ confidence by reviewing the system.

This is why the announcement of reduced tariffs by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is baffling.

The ANC is shooting itself in the foot; scoring an own goal. If Gautengers were angry before, surely they will be livid after Ramaphosa and Gauteng Premier David Makhura tried to sell the changes as proof that we have a “caring, responsible and responsive government”.

Perhaps they thought using the stick-carrot method to get road users to pay would work, but there was a lot more stick than carrot.

On the positive side:

1) The tariff for light vehicles has been reduced from 58c/km to 30c/km

2) The monthly cap has been reduced to R225 a month from the current R450 a month.

3) There will be no charge for users who pass gantries fewer than 30 times a year.

The two major sticky points:

1) The slate hasn’t been wiped clean for those who, until now, have not paid their e-tolls account. Instead they will get a 60% discount to settle their debt dating back to December 2013.

2) Licence disc renewals will be linked to the payment of e-tolls. Either pay for e-tolls or you won’t be able to renew your licence disc.

By effectively holding Gautengers hostage, what chance does the government really have of getting them onboard the e-tolls train?

They are more likely to dig in their heels and fight this.

Like Wayne Duvenage from the Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance said: “Cars will be driven without licences and people will licence vehicles in other provinces.”

This would create a new market for fraudulent vehicle licences, he said.

It would be interesting to see if a court challenge arises to determine the constitutionality of making licence disc renewals contingent on settling your e-toll account.

But how will the “new” e-toll system affect the ANC?

According to Makhura, the changes have nothing to do with next year’s local government elections.

That the ANC is afraid of losing votes in Gauteng is not even debatable. But by raising the hopes of Gauteng residents only to dish out these insulting changes, does Makhura honestly think he has done his party any favours?

Of course, the DA was quick to use the e-tolls issue to lure voters. The party's Jack Bloom tweeted:

Expect other opposition parties to use this thorny issue to garner more votes as well.

And the ANC will have nobody but itself to blame for thinking of voters as fools.

As axed Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi put it in a tweet following the announcement:

Read more on:    david makhura  |  e-tolls  |  anc

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