Transport Director-General George Mahlalela, who is also chairperson of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) toll steering committee, re-iterated on Monday that no decision had been made on the Gauteng toll tariffs.

Mahlalela's comments follow media reports that the proposed toll tariff of 66c/km would more than likely not change. The media reports were based on “inaccurate claims” on the Department of Transport's steering committee report, which was sent out to various organisations that had made public proposals on the toll fees, the transport department said.

“We wish to re-iterate that no decision has been made on the Gauteng toll tariffs,” Mahlalela said. “The tariffs will be announced by Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele in due course, after studying the final recommendations of the steering committee as well as consultation with the political oversight committee. The steering committee, announced by Ndebele to make recommendations on the proposed toll tariff of 66c/km, has not completed its report and will be meeting again with stakeholders on June 30. It was made clear right at the outset that the principle of tolling has been accepted, and that the matter under review is the proposed tariff of 66c/km. Therefore, this type of reporting by certain sections of the media is totally mischievous,” he said.

Mahlalela pointed out that comments and proposals received from organised formations and civil society had been overwhelming, with the initial deadline of April 30 for submission of the report having to be shifted. And with the majority of South Africans taking the Easter holiday break, the steering committee decided to reschedule its follow-up engagement and consultation with stakeholders.

“The Gauteng toll tariffs, which have attracted an outcry from a wide-range of stakeholders, have to be dealt with thoroughly and in a manner that addresses the concerns raised during consultations. It is of importance that this process retains its integrity and that the outcome reflects the honest engagement we have had with stakeholders across the spectrum. In the interest of all road users, we cannot rush into hasty decisions on the e-tolling issue as this might, however well-intended, undermine the very aim of having engaged with all the stakeholders. Unfortunately, this isn't helped by a small part of the media that report incorrectly and irresponsibly on tolling seemingly to create sensation,” Mahlalela continued.

He said that government was doing “everything possible” to resolve the matter in a manner that would be in the best interest of the commuter, road user and the state for future development and management of road infrastructure in the whole country. - I-Net Bridge