Tag Archive | e-tolling. e tolling

e-tolling Transport Bill held over

Changes made after parliamentary hearings.

Department of transport spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso told a media briefing on e-tolling ecently that the portfolio transport committee was to completed two days of public hearings on e-tolling and the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill in Parliament.   As  a result Parliament has given notice for the matter to be brought before National Assembly with certain further changes scheduled.

In hearings that took place within the portfolio committee on transport under Adv Johnny de Lange as chair the Bill was adopted in debate, although opposition members abstained from voting in favour since caucus support on what was considered by them as possible and reasonable  could not be approved in the light of time restraints, this being the reason given.

The Bill, subject therefore subject to final approval by Parliament still stands, as does the issue of e-tolling on a national basis.

“The matter has been postponed for for further discussion”, Rikhotso said, referring to the fact that the NA had yet to agree or not to the withdrawal of the Bill or whether more changes were to be accepted brought forward by the portfolio committee as a result of public hearings which took place and further possible debate.

SALGA agreeable in part

Issues at the public hearings with regard to e-tolling mainly involved the practical application and whether SANRAL was exceeding its mandate. Only two oral presentations were heard although some ten papers or submissions were circulated, including one from Business Unity SA.     What is clear, however, is that despite all the argument and debate, the actual process of e-tolling will be hard if not impossible to undo.

The oral hearings included a South African Local Government Association (SALGA) submission presented by Mthobeli Kolisa, executive director of municipal infrastructure services, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and also from Ms Jane Bennett, affiliate support coordinator, COSATU. No oral submissions were received from OUTA, although it was unclear if written submissions were made.

SALGA said its association of 278 municipalities was primarily trying to achieve the objective of ensuring that the legislation would provide for studies on the impact of the diversion of traffic from proposed urban tolled roads into local roads. These studies must address the likely congestion and resultant costs of road maintenance and traffic management, and access to opportunities for life on the part of affected communities.

The studies, they said, must form the basis for decision making regarding whether or not to toll a road, and to determine what mitigating measures were needed to address the negative impacts if the tolling was to go ahead.

Whilst SALGA supported the proposed bill it wanted to see additional clauses that also affected the mandate of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and National Roads Act which called for the minister’s approval for any declaration in partnership with affected municipalities.

These had to include in their view studies on the likely impact of the contemplated road tolling on communities’ access to livelihood opportunities; local roads in terms of diversion and related maintenance and traffic management costs and for such studies to be used as a basis for public consultations and such conditions had to be written into the proposals, SALGA said.

Bennett of COSATU was of the opinion that without the Bill, the e-toll would not be able to proceed and suggested strongly to parliamentarians to take the decision to reject the Bill. She said the issue of a Bill to make e-tolling possible had been rushed through as an afterthought, just to make the matter legal and that it ran counter to a number of basic principles of law, not the least the National Credit Act.

COSATU maintained there had been “little sincerity in the consultation” and tolls like the Gauteng Highway Project and others in the country, no doubt to follow, would add a huge burden to the already impoverished poor. There was also a suggestion of profiteering, she said. However the overall feeling of the portfolio committee was that the COSATU suggestions were insufficiently persuasive to halt national road development on a user pays basis.

COSATU raised issues surrounding the application of the provisions of the Cross- Border Transport Road Agency and the lack of restrictions on how tariff increases would be applied in future. COSATU strongly objected to the parliamentary procedure involved and which had excluded input from the provinces, meaning that the Bill had been tabled as a section 75 Bill which does not call for provincial hearings and mandates through the NCOP.

At the hearings, both the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and the Department of Transport (DOT) questioned the amendments sought by SALGA. They stated that the SANRAL Act already required SANRAL to inform all affected municipalities about the tolling of a section of national roads, and that this already catered for SALGA’s request.

From parliamentary papers it appears that the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill could have been withdrawn from the National Assembly order paper at the last minute before the discussions but despite this fact, subsequent debate did in fact take place place and approval by the portfolio committee on the Bill was obtained by a majority vote. This means  that whilst the legislation may be amended, e-tolling itself as a process will probably roll on providing concurrence of the National Council of Provinces is agreed in early 2013.

Parliament’s deliberations on the bill in the NA will continue in the New Year it is presumed  after Parliament reconvenes on February 10, and the future of the legislation as it stands then debated further. In the meanwhile the debate will no doubt rage on at community level.

The difficulty could well be that the amendments sought by SALGA and perhaps by the portfolio committee after deliberations could affect the anchor legislation itself and more than one piece of law.

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