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You don't think e-tolls will go ahead

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The Star

Sanral issued a statement saying it will go "live" with e-tolling in Gauteng within the next two months. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

We're continually surprised at the depth of feeling among our readers evoked by the whole e-tolling saga, at how much anger is directed at the system in its present format and, most particularly, the lack of transparency surrounding just exactly where the money thus extracted from the pockets of Gauteng drivers will be going.

When we asked you whether you thought e-tolling would eventually go ahead we got an avalanche of responses; 2249 readers replied. Of those 825, or just under 37 percent, said yes and 1424, or 63.3 percent, said no.

There seems to be little dissent that the upgraded freeways are an absolute necessity if the industrial heart of South Africa is not to suffer terminal clogging of its arteries. Likewise, most Gauteng drivers seem to accept, at least in principle, that those improved roads will have to be paid for and that it's only fair they should be paid for by the people who drive on them.

And here we come to the sticking point.

Just exactly how are we going to pay for those roads?

There are many ways in which the funds can be collected; the easiest - and by far the cheapest - would by an increase in the 'inland levy' that Gauteng drivers already pay to defray the cost of piping their fuel up from the coast.

Since all it would take would be a few computer key-strokes, the cost of collecting the levy would be zero and all the money would be put to good use.

Instead, Sanral seems intent on ramming down our throats an extraordinarily complicated system, so expensive to install and administer that it seems most of the money collected will go to the dozens of companies, many of them foreign-based, involved in installing, administering, maintaining and enforcing the e-tolling system itself and not very much to actually paying off the debt incurred in building the roads.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

Which is why the Gauteng High Court put a stop to e-tolling, pending a judicial review in which Sanral will be required to spell in detail exactly where every cent of our toll money will go and in whose pocket it will wind up.

When we asked you, the people who click on the motoring pages of IOL, whether the e-tolling can of worms would survive such an examination, you said no, by a margin of almost two to one - a resounding vote of confidence in our judicial system and, at the same time, an unequivocal indictment of the underhand way in which Sanral does business.

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