Transport Laws Bill on e-tolling amended

Public disclosure written into Bill….

road tollsProposed amendments to the e-tolling Transport Laws and Related Matters Bill affecting alternative routes which are used to avoid or by-pass tolling systems – amendments originally proposed by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and subsequently amended by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and which vitally affect public disclosure – have been accepted by the parliamentary committee on transport and will be incorporated in the final Bill to be presented to the National Assembly for approval.

The Bill as originally tabled makes the proposition of e-tolling legally acceptable on a national basis. However, in a subsequent move, published proposals came forward from the FF+ to the effect that all socio-economic reports and traffic impact assessments compiled on alternative routings must be made available to the province concerned and every municipality affected before any e-tolling project can commence.

Alternative routes get heavy use

The FF+ proposal was on the basis that a considerable number of small towns and local governments have been badly affected by heavy traffic, where heavily used by-pass routes, now required by law, have been picked to obviate the necessity of paying e-toll fees.  Lower grade roads have sometimes been made impassable and even bridging damaged.

On the basis of the FF+ request, the necessary proposals were published but during the process of adoption it was pointed out by the DA that such amendments were still not acceptable. Whilst the principle was right, they said, the amendment was insufficient since no guarantee was provided on public consultation or public involvement, particularly in the case of the affected parties.

 

No chance to hide

Ian Ollis, shadow minister of transport said, “What happens if a provincial officer or somebody at local government level, maybe even somebody who has a vested interest fails to disclose the reports or impact assessments or even hides them in a drawer?”, he asked. The case of OUTA was a case in point, he said.

After debate with the state law advisor, the DA’s additional proposal that all such reports on socio economic factors and all impact assessments involving matters regarding e-tolling were to be published in the government gazette for public consumption, was accepted.

The Bill will now go forward to the NCOP for approval.

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