'Average earner can't afford e-tolls'

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IOL mot pic aug 25 etoll INLSA Cosatu will submit evidence of the financial impact of e-tolling costs on workers using the highways daily to commute. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - The cost of living, food prices rising faster than the average workers’ monthly pay packages and anecdotes of workers’ travel costs in Gauteng daily, will be the basis of many submissions to the e-tolling review panel hearings starting this week.

Trade union federation Cosatu’s spokesman Patrick Craven said on Friday it would submit evidence of the financial impact of e-tolling costs on workers using the highways daily to commute.

“The stories of workers who travel to work by car will show how they are affected and how so many cannot cope with additional costs,” he said.

“We still remain opposed to the e-tolling system in principle.”

The e-tolling review panel appointed by Gauteng premier David Makhura is set to begin hearing from interested parties on Monday with representations from labour organisations.

The panel is tasked with conducting a comprehensive assessment of the socio-economic impact of e-tolls.

The majority of the presentations to the review panel are expected to draw attention to the negative effects of e-tolling on business in Gauteng, getting to work and the provincial economy.

Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance spokesman John Clarke said the alliance was preparing a comprehensive proposal to the review panel that would draw on testimonies given by motorists in the initial court case against the South African National Roads Agency Limited.

“We will also use the substantive merits of what we argued in the court papers.”

“Our submission is going to be based on what we already have on our website,” he said.

One such case used by Outa in their battle with Sanral was that of Hilda Maphoroma who said she feared her family, already on the brink of ruin - not because they were poor but because they were average - would be worse off.

“My husband works in Midrand. We both have no option but to drive to work daily on the tolled roads. Our children attend school in Auckland Park,” she wrote in her affidavit.

“My monthly fuel bill is more than R1000 and my husband’s bill is almost double that. I don’t know how we would be able to add another R550 cost each for e-tolling on our already depleted budget.”

They lived meagrely on her husband’s R9 000 monthly salary and hers of R3 000, she said.

She had volunteered to submit her own affidavit in support of Outa’s efforts.

“We want the best education for our children.”

“That is why we have stretched ourselves to allow them to attend school so far away from home. Travelling with them to school every morning is much cheaper than all of us taking a bus and paying a monthly fare, so we don’t have a choice but to use my car.”

The money for e-tolls, Hilda wrote, would have to be cut straight out of their food budget, which was already diminishing as they prioritised only what the family needed most - such as mealie-meal.

Clarke said on Friday: “It’s not about winning the war, it is now about securing a lasting peace in the fight against e-tolling.”

The Road Freight Association said on Friday it had not yet finalised its submission to the panel, but it would be presenting to the panel on 9 September.

The e-tolling panel will present monthly reports, and a final report and recommendations to Makhura by November 30.

Saturday Star 



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