The government must “listen to and appreciate” the reasons behind the public outcry against e-tolling, the Black Management Forum (BMF) said on Thursday.
“The BMF Gauteng province noted with regret government's intention to continue with e-tolling... despite the public outcry and the justified public protests against the implementation of this project,” said BMF chairman Modise Moiloanyane in a statement.
He said the government, together with the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the department of transport, needed to take collective responsibility for the lack of proper engagement with Gauteng residents on the proposed e-tolling.
“Proper consultation and public buy-in is critical for projects of this magnitude, especially given the importance of the roads earmarked for tolling,” said Moiloanyane.
“These are roads that have been built through tax contributions from Gauteng residents, which they use daily to go to work and make a living, and thus should not be expected to pay more (for).”
The BMF said that if the department wanted to toll roads, it should first build new highways.
“The department... must, before rushing to introduce a world-class tolling system, first implement a world-class public transport system, so that using toll roads becomes an option rather than a necessity.”
He said the department should abandon the project and use the e-toll infrastructure for other traffic monitoring intelligence and crime prevention activities.
“The BMF Gauteng believes that if the country's resources are used effectively we will be in a position to fund such infrastructure projects without the need for the public to pay additional indirect tax.”
On April 28, the High Court in Pretoria granted an interdict to the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), ruling that a full review needed to be carried out before e-tolling could be put into effect.
The interdict prevented Sanral from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of the review.
In September, the Constitutional Court overturned the interim order and found that the high court had not considered the separation of powers between the court and the executive.
Argument over the implementation of e-tolling was heard by the High Court in Pretoria this week. Outa wants the court to review and set aside Sanral's decision to toll roads.
Judgment on the matter was reserved. - Sapa