E-tolls discount a lucky packet: NGO


Gauteng road users do not need discounts and tariff reductions on e-toll fees because they never asked for tolls, the Road Safety Campaign said on Monday. "I don't think the people of Gauteng have asked for lucky packets and discounts," chairman Ali Gule told public hearings in Midrand on the impact of e-tolls.
"But we are not buying this e-toll thing, therefore we don't need a discount. We reject it."

"We have expressed ourselves that we don't want it."

The hearings are intended to examine the economic and social impact of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and the electronic tolling system set up to fund it. The panel is expected to present its findings to premier David Makhura at the end of November.

Gule said it did not help giving motorists discounts for something they did not want.

"Don't give a person a discount if that person isn't buying anything. I'm grateful for the discount," he said.

"But we are not buying this e-toll thing, therefore we don't need a discount. We reject it."

He said if e-tolls continued, consumers would be hardest hit, even if they did not use the tolled roads.

Gule said even if people used taxis, which were exempt, they would still need to pay for price increases by businesses to cover the cost of e-tolls for transportation of goods.

Gule said the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) misrepresented itself when it said all consultation processes with consumers and other affected parties were held.

"Sanral misrepresented itself or misled both the taxpayers and government on this matter," he said.

The public never gave its blessing for the GFIP and the public hearings were futile.

After a petition was signed, preparations to switch on the gantries were fast-tracked and Sanral never responded to the concerns raised, Gule said.

"It was an open secret that Sanral was untouchable. Period. Never has there been any transparency on e-tolls from the get go. You don't need to know the difference between chalk and cheese to smell the rotten milk."

The fuel levy was introduced for the maintenance of roads, therefore it should be used to pay for the debt incurred.

Alternative methods should be looked at to scrap e-tolls.

"E-tolls are unmanageable and extremely costly. E-toll is a time bomb. It's the riskiest footstep on the wrong direction."

He said there had been mass demonstrations, incorrect billing, and payment defaulting since e-tolls were implemented in December.

Gule said it was not about whether people liked the gantries -- which he said reminded him of a disco at night -- it was whether Gauteng could afford it.

He said since the province was the country's economic hub everyone would be affected by the system.

"We can't afford them."

"[The public hearings are] like a memorial service for e-tolls because soon we are going to bury e-tolls," he said in conclusion.


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