Cabinet decides that e-tolling will proceed

In a cabinet statement this week cabinet made it clear by  approving the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill for tabling in Parliament that the e-tolling development generally and particularly on the project known as the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), was going ahead.

The heart of the matter remains the electronic toll collection system and the new Bill will give the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) the full enforcement powers it needs to ensure payment of tolls.     Between the new Bill, SANRALS’s own founding legislation and National Roads Act, all put together, allowed Ben Martins, minister of transport to consider that SANRAL will eventually be in  sufficient compliance to both enforce and administer e-tolling.

In a meeting a few weeks ago, the Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) and the newly formed Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), OUTA all agreed that the national fuel levy continue to be used to fund freeway improvements since this was the established and fair procedure for road development.

The OUTA delegation included the South African Vehicle Rental and Lease Association, the Automobile Association, the South African National Consumer Union, Investment Solutions and the Retail Motor Industry, led by Wayne Duvenage.

Nobody disagreed on the need for users to pay for road improvements; the need to decongest the country’s roads; and the need for more efficient public transport but focus again fell on the method of funding use, i.e cameras on e-toll gantries whether e-tolling as a procedure would solve congestion.

OUTA welcomed the GFIP it said at the time and commended the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) was a well-managed road building entity but argued that e-tolling was not efficient or effective as a funding mechanism in itself. Where OUTA disagreed was that the existing national fuel levy be used to fund freeway improvements in view of the current use of the levy to build and maintain roads countrywide.

Government has always stressed the need that whatever happens, users had to pay and and it appears that the ministry was far too far down the e-tolling contractual development of building to wish to alter its course, aside from any policy decisions on the matter.

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