E-tolls have not worked – Makhura looks to Ramaphosa for new model

2018-02-26 16:25
Gauteng Premier David Makhura delivered his State of the Province Address on Monday. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Gauteng Premier David Makhura delivered his State of the Province Address on Monday. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Monday admitted that e-tolling had not worked and that he would be meeting President Cyril Ramaphosa to devise an alternative funding model.

"It is loud and clear for all to see that e-tolls have not worked," said Makhura.

Speaking at the State of the Province Address at the Gauteng legislature, Makhura said e-tolls had added to the cost of living for many motorists and public transport users in the province.

"Accordingly, I will engage President Ramaphosa in order to find a new and more equitable funding model to support the continued expansion of Gauteng's road network and public transport system. Please send me!" he said, repeating Ramaphosa's mantra which the president lifted from a Hugh Masekela's song, Thuma Mina.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomed Makhura's acknowledgement, saying the compliance rate for e-toll users was only 29%. 

"OUTA is preparing a submission for the Minister of Transport and the President and will engage with the executive to show the negative impact e-tolls have had on the public and on the SANRAL budget and to propose alternative funding models," said OUTA transport portfolio manager Rudie Heyneke.

"The collection costs and litigation costs are too high when measured against the revenue generated by e-tolls."

On Monday, Makhura began his address by congratulating Ramaphosa on becoming the new president, saying his election would herald a new dawn of hope, renewal and change for South Africa.

"We must first acknowledge that we are emerging from a period of pain, adversity and despair. It has been a difficult and trying time for citizens, businesses and even those of us who have been afforded the opportunity and responsibility to serve the people in government."

Gauteng among the best in education

Makhura said it could not be business as usual.

He said despite the fact that the country's economy created 300 000 jobs between 2014 and 2016, and another 400 000 jobs between 2010 and 2014, momentum had slowed down owing to tough macro-economic conditions, especially the downgrade of South Africa in 2017.

On education, Makhura said the province had consistently been among the best performing provinces in basic education.

"Our throughput rate is above 70%. In the 2017 Grade 12 results, Gauteng came second after Free State, while seven of our districts were in the top 10 nationally," he said.

Makhura also welcomed the introduction of free higher education for low-income tertiary students.

He stressed that more needed to be done to create jobs for the youth.

5 400 jobs needed a day

"Youth unemployment is the most acute and primary economic problem of our time. Economics shall fall if it fails to answer the question of how we resolve youth unemployment. Politics will have no future relevance if youth are left out."

There are close to two million young people who are not in employment, education or training.

"We need to create 5 400 jobs per day to eliminate unemployment. To halve unemployment we need to create 2 700 jobs per day."

He urged business to heed the call made by Ramaphosa to place unemployed young people in paid internships in companies across the economy.

The Gauteng government invested public money in the creation of broadband infrastructure towards the goal of 100% broadband connectivity in Gauteng by 2020, said Makhura. 

He said to date, the province had connected more than 1 500km of network fibre, with 1 066 access sites, connecting schools, health facilities, libraries and community centres.

Township businesses 'squeezed'

He said attention needed to be paid to townships as there was a lot of potential.

A major crackdown was planned for illegally operated business, particularly in townships, said Makhura.

"This is a matter we must address boldly and decisively to enforce by-laws and trading regulations.

"Many township entrepreneurs are being squeezed out of businesses by this unlawfully operating foreigner-owned businesses."

Makhura also spent time apologising for the Life Esidimeni tragedy that led to the deaths of 144 psychiatric patients who were moved to ill-equipped NGOs.

READ: I dip my head in shame – Makhura on Life Esidimeni tragedy

"I dip my head in shame and once more apologise that this happened under my watch and I am totally committed to take corrective and remedial action to ensure that this never happens again," said Makhura.

Ethics council established

He said he would ensure that those that were criminally liable for the tragedy were prosecuted.

On ethical leadership, Makhura said a civil society-led ethics and anti-corruption advisory council had been established to be a clean governance watchdog.

"This ethics advisory council is already hard at work to help us crackdown on corruption wherever it manifests itself. Please lend a hand in the fight against corruption."

Makhura has met with the Special Investigation Unit to ensure that all outstanding cases were speedily concluded.

"It is unacceptable that many forensic investigations are instituted by departments, but there are no consequences on the part of wrongdoers."

He urged members of the executive council and heads of department to subject themselves to lifestyle audits.

Fight against crime

"We want to send a strong message that we are committed to probity, transparency and accountability in the conduct of public affairs. I call on all members of this legislature to join me in volunteering to subject ourselves to lifestyle audits."

More needed to be done to fight crime, he said.

"I am saddened that we are not yet winning the war against crime because the high rate of crime destroys the dreams of our people who yearn to live in safe and secure communities."

He urged communities to work together with the police to fight crime.

He welcomed the resolution of the ANC's 54th national conference on the expropriation of land without compensation, saying land would unlock key economic centres.

Read more on:    anc  |  david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  land  |  etolls  |  tolls  |  education  |  life esidimeni  |  internet  |  sa economy

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