The Opposition to Urban Tolling Allinance (OUTA) has called on motorists to not sit back and allow e-tolling to happen in Gauteng, but to answer government’s call for public feedback on the controversial system.
“We encourage the public to use the opportunity to comment on the Proposed Toll Tariffs (Gazette # 35756) and the Toll Exemptions (Gazette # 35755) which have been published in the Government Gazette,” says OUTA spokesperson Wayne Duvenage.
“A clear message of e-toll rejection should be e- mailed to Mphahlet@dot.gov.za,” he says.
He was reacting to Transport Minister Ben Martins’ announcement last Friday that Gauteng e-tolling would go ahead after a “30 day consultation period” for the public to submit written comments.
GOVERNMENT’S CHARM OFFENSIVE
Duvenage says the e-toll “charm offensive” by government is now well under way.
“Given the extent of discussions between various parties during the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) led process, one expects that the basis of their e-toll recommendation to cabinet would have been made public. Instead, the general public is merely told that they will proceed with e-tolling and that government will review tariffs at the end of next month.
“In addition, despite the perception that government would like to create, the Gazetted tariffs are no different to those published, and subsequently withdrawn, earlier this year.”
Registered e-tag users will still pay 30c/km, which is capped at R550 a month, while those without e-tags will be hit with nearly double this amount.
OUTA and several other bodies have suggested using a fuel levy rather than e-tolls to fund the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, but government rejects this on the basis that roads should be funded on a “user-pays” principle.
A judicial review on the e-tolling system is scheduled for November 26 and the final Government Gazette will be published two weeks later. Gary Ronald of the AA said: “We are still advocating not buying e-tags until the judicial review process is completed and we have a definite answer from the high court.”
The Justice Project South Africa (JPSA), another staunch critic of e-tolling, has questioned how the latest public consultation process differs from previous consultations that took place.
“It is clear that those processes were mere window dressing for a pre-determined outcome and there is nothing to suggest that the latest round will be any different,” says JPSA’s Howard Dembowsky.
“This having been said, it is our sincere hope that members of the public will take the time to comment on the two Government Gazette notices issued for comment.” -Pretoria News Motoring