Johannesburg - The Gauteng government is serious about assessing the impact of e-tolls on residents, premier David Makhura said on Thursday.
“If we were not serious we wouldn't announce that this matter required our attention... We wouldn't come this far,” Makhura told reporters in Johannesburg.
He announced the names of 10 of the 15 members of a panel that would examine the effect e-tolling had had on the province. It would meet for the first time next Thursday.
“When we meet with the panel next week, we will discuss that it is a matter of public interest.”
The panel members are: chairman Muxe Nkondo, Patricia Hanekom, John Ngcebetsha, Vuyo Mahlathi, Luci Abrahams, Fiona Tregenna, Anna Mokgokong, John Sampson, Lauretta Teffo, and Chris Malikane.
Five more members were expected to be announced later, Makhura said.
“I will announce the rest of the names once I have concluded consultations with them.”
The panel was tasked with inviting proposals and submissions from Gauteng residents on proposed solutions to e-tolling. It would submit its finding and recommendations to the provincial government.
“The panel is expected to present monthly reports, and final report and recommendations to the Gauteng provincial government by 30 November 2014.”
On September 25, President Jacob Zuma signed into law the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, giving the go-ahead for e-tolling in Gauteng.
The e-toll system started operating across Gauteng on December 3, following several court challenges and widespread public opposition.
Makhura said those who saw the panel as the ruling African National Party's attempt at doing damage control were cynics and “playing cheap politics”.
There had been speculation that the ANC's loss of support in Gauteng during the May 7 general elections was partly due to the implementation of e-tolls.
“Even with the ANC it understands that the work we are doing is important.
“This has a bearing on all the people of Gauteng... The election campaign has come and gone... It has nothing to do with the (2016) local government elections.”
He urged Gauteng motorists to continue paying their e-toll bills while government worked at finding a lasting solution.