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Pretoria - Live with it. That is the government’s response to complaints about the Gauteng e-tolling system and the traffic chaos which has hit city streets as a result of roadworks.
At the launch of Transport Month in Hatfield on Tuesday, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said she was happy that President Jacob Zuma had signed the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill last week. “I am happy the bill was signed. As law-abiding citizens, we must comply.
“I appeal to all the Gauteng residents to register and buy e-tags. People must not delay. I have long registered. Everyone with a vehicle running on our roads must register.”
Peters said the starting date for the e-tolls will be announced soon.
“When the president is ready to sign, he will and we will give out all the dates of when the e-tolling will start. We need a month or so to put our ducks in a row,” said Peters.
Zuma signed the e-toll bill into law just as the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) took the issue to the Supreme Court. Judgment was reserved.
Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said motorists were not legally bound to buy the tags.
“We encourage people to resist a system that does not believe in participation and is grossly expensive. If people do not buy the tags, government will be forced to back down. The system has failed across the world, because society has refused to comply,” Duvenage said.
With regard to the traffic problem in Pretoria, mayoral transport committee member George Matjila said motorists had to be patient on the road until the Tshwane Rapid Bus Transit construction had been completed.
“So far the construction has been going very well. We are hoping that by 2014 we can go live. Motorists just have to be patient as this has to do with service delivery. They will be able to travel within normal traffic soon. There is no way of easing the traffic.”
He said the first phase of construction was supposed to be completed by the end of October.
“There have been a few delays but we are still pinning our hopes on finishing it at the end of October.”
The first phase of the BRT system will run from Nana Sita Street to Hatfield, where a BRT station is under construction. The section of Nana Sita Street between Du Toit and Paul Kruger streets has been closed to allow for the construction of BRT lanes along the route. Line 1A of the bus system is expected to run from Rainbow Junction to Nana Sita Street along Paul Kruger Street.
Fifty-one stations are to be built from Kopanong in Soshanguve to the city centre. At peak times, services are expected to run every three to five minutes, with feeder services every 15 minutes in dedicated bus lanes.
Public transport consultant Paul Browning said it might be hard to convince motorists to use the buses.
“Motorists are so committed to their cars and it will take quite a lot to convince them to use public transport.”
He said the city may be forced into introducing punitive measures like heavy parking fees and extra charges for moving during traffic congestion.
“The only other cities that have BRT systems are Johannesburg with Rea Vaya and Cape Town with My Citybus and there is no research to indicate whether the commuters stopped using their cars or if they were using public transport anyway.”
Browning said the e-toll system would not help ease congestion in the city. “Within the city it will have a marginal effect. There is no alternative to the freeway travel, so motorists who commute to Johannesburg do not have a choice,” he said.
Peters said her department was conducting a feasibility study into ways of reducing travel times for people commuting on the Moloto Road to Pretoria, to be completed next March.
“In the area north-east of Tshwane there are large numbers of commuters travelling daily by bus over long distances with excessive travel times and high cost to both the government and the commuters.
“Approximately 35 000 commuters are being transported in one direction in the morning by bus and in the opposite direction in the evening along this corridor.”
She said some commuters spent up to seven hours a day commuting. Peters said she was also worried about the number of accidents on the roads.
“People still do not comply with the rules of the road.
“They do whatever they want on the freeways. We have to get to a point that people start losing their licences.”