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Midrand - The user-pays principle to be implemented on Gauteng's freeways is comparable to paying to use a toilet, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said on Thursday.
"Those who use a facility, you pay R1 or R2. Those toilets need to be maintained. Would you pay (to use a) dirty toilet?" she asked.
"Responsible citizens will pay for the open and smooth roads."
She was speaking at the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (SACCI) annual convention in Midrand.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance appeal against the implementation of e-tolls by the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral).
Increasing the fuel levy was not the answer to funding the expansion and maintenance of road infrastructure, Peters told an infrastructure plenary at the convention.
"Many people are talking about using taxes," she said.
"(The) fuel levy is not going to address our concerns... We cannot put it (the cost) into the fuel levy."
Given the amount of money government contributed to social grants, using the fiscus as a separate option to pay for road infrastructure would negatively affect the poor.
"Should we take that money away from poor children whose fathers have slept on work surfaces?" she asked.
The politicisation of e-tolls, specifically the user-pays principle, did not help anyone.
"It doesn't help us to play politics with infrastructure development," Peters said.
The Democratic Alliance recently erected billboards on the N1 and N3 highways reading: "E-tolls: Proudly Brought To You By The ANC".
The ruling African National Congress said it had noted the billboards, but declined to comment.
Peters later told reporters e-tolls would be operational by the end of the year.
Asked whether government had celebrated Wednesday's court ruling, she replied: "It's not about celebration... We just need to make sure to implement."
Earlier, the minister mentioned successful additions by government since 1994 to the country's transport infrastructure.
These included the Gautrain, widening Durban's harbour entrance, the Coega industrial zone near Port Elizabeth becoming fully operational, and the construction and renovation of several airports.
As government upgraded the country's rail infrastructure, manufacturing locomotives and rolling stock within South Africa was of paramount importance so jobs could be created.
"Localisation is the bedrock of all infrastructure features," the minister said.
Peters stressed the importance of the transport sector.
"Transport is the heartbeat of South Africa's economic growth."
This was especially true when it came to Gauteng, given how important the province was to those neighbouring it, hence why government had targeted it first for major road infrastructure improvements.
"If we don't develop Gauteng, people in other periphery provinces will say 'they can't even deal with Gauteng'," she said.