493 16/01/2012 The infamous coloured lights of a Sanral tolling gantry can be seen illuminating Gautengs roads during the night. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee

Pretoria -

The e-tolling of Gauteng's freeways will cost motorists with e-tags 30c/km, it was announced on Friday.

This was a reduction from the 40c/km decided on last year, SA National Roads Agency toll and traffic manager Alex van Niekerk told reporters in Pretoria.

According to figures released by Van Niekerk, a motorist travelling to work on the N1 from the Johannesburg CBD to Pretoria CBD would pay R6 in each direction, or R12 a day, as motorists would have to pay tolls only on certain sections of the N1.

If the motorist worked five days a week, s/he would pay about R60 a week, adding up to R2880 a year.

Transport Minister Ben Martins said the e-tolling project's terms and conditions were gazetted on Friday, marking the start of another round of public consultation.

“This marks the beginning of a 30-day period for public comment. Government will, at the end of the 30 days, having considered the views of the public, publish final tariffs.”

After the public consultation 14 days would be set aside for Martins to “apply his mind”, and another 14 days for the gazetting of the final tariffs.

This would mean e-tolls could come into effect four days before Christmas.

However, Van Niekerk would not give a specific date.

Martins said the tariffs announced on Friday were not final, because of the consultation process.

“The issues that will be discussed and the inputs that are made will be given due serious consideration. And it's also not correct to state that the fees that have been articulated are carved in stone.”

If they were “carved in stone” the consultation process would be meaningless, he said.

Transport department director general George Mahlalela said all parties had been consulted, except for the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance.

He said the government had contributed R5.75 billion to the project, or 25 percent of the total debt.

Van Niekerk said the current tariffs were calculated taking the Treasury's contribution into consideration. The cost of e-tolling collection was included in the tariffs.

“We've previously indicted that the cost of collection, if you calculate it over the life cycle of the project, taking into consideration all costs associated with the project, it is about 17 percent of compliant toll transactions,” said Van Niekerk.

The e-tag tariff for motorcycles had also been dropped from 24c/km to 18c/km, for medium heavy vehicles (Class B) from R1/km to 75c/km, and heavy vehicles (Class C) from R2/km to R1.50/km.

Martins said the government had proposed that toll fees for e-tag users be capped at R550 a month for light vehicles.

According to Sanral's calculations, only 0.2 percent of e-tag users would pay this amount.

Van Niekerk said those exempted from paying e-toll fees included valid public transport vehicles and emergency vehicles. The process would also allow for applications by motorists for exemptions, such as quadriplegics who needed someone to drive them around.

Despite Friday's announcement, the court review of the e-toll system was set for November 26.

Organisations and political parties opposed to e-tolling expressed shock on Friday over the tariff announcement. The Democratic Alliance said it was disappointed that the system was going ahead.

“The gazetted amounts are not lower than those announced earlier this year, and the monthly caps can easily be raised later once the system is implemented,” DA MP Neil Campbell said in a statement.

The Freedom Front Plus said it would lay a complaint against Sanral with the Consumer Commission about the higher tariffs which road users without e-tags would have to pay.

“This difference in tariff creates unfair discrimination and illegally forces road users to register for the e-tags service. This type of action is prohibited by the Consumer Protection Act,” FF Plus MP Anton Alberts said.

The Justice Project SA said the consultations that took place before the gazetting were “window dressing”.

“There is nothing to suggest that the latest round (of consultation) will be any different,” national chairman Howard Dembovsky said. - Sapa