Reasons for opposing e-tolls: Vavi

By Drum Digital
03 December 2013

Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi shares reasons why he opposes the tolling of freeways.

In an open letter published on his Facebook page Vavi wrote:

The e-tolls will add to the burden of the poor

Thousands of low paid workers are unavoidably traveling in private cars (either their own or pooled transport) on Gauteng freeways to get to work or attend funeral or sporting/social activities. It's rubbish that these workers who travel between Pretoria and Johannesburg and who work as educators and in administration offices of government form part of the rich or middle strata. They use their cars because there is no adequate public transport that is accessible, affordable, safe and reliable in SA.

The e-tolls will exclude the poor from using best public infrastructure.

The logic of making people pay is so those who don't have money to pay will be excluded from using the facility. We are told that those who can't afford must use alternative roads or use public transport. Yet we know in many cases there are no such alternatives. This means the divisions between the haves and the have-nots. The rich will use the best roads whilst the poor are forced into potholes of the municipal roads that are now going to cater for all those avoiding first class highways. This is why we called etolls economic apartheid.

Public Transport is totally inadequate.

We know government has exempted the registered public transport. What government did not tell us is that taxis and busses constitute only 5% of the vehicles using the Gauteng highways. Public transport remains inadequate, largely inaccessible, unaffordable and not safe. Former president once referred to the taxis as the moving coffins.

Use of private cars under these conditions is not a luxury but unavoidable.

E-tolling is privatization through the back door.

Gauteng highways are owned by the state with SANRAL a state agency that must maintain them. SANRAL has now subcontracted this to private firms whose only purpose of existence is profits. The main company that will operate these etolls is from Austria - not even a South African company. That's why e-tolls is privatization through the back door.

 E-tolling is the most expensive way of recovering road costs.

Roads should be paid through a combination of income tax, fuel levy and a compulsory prescribed investment from retirement funds and all other investors in state owned infrastructure. Most of the infrastructure we inherited from the apartheid past was paid by retirement funds. Government rejected this insisting on using e-tolls. This model now being forced down our throats in Gauteng will soon be extended to Cape Town, Durban and other major cities. No person who believes in fairness must support this model.

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