214 15.11.2012 Brett Holley, a concern motorist, poses a question to department of transport and South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) during the e-tolling public hearing at The Core, Sunninghill. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg -

There was yelling and finger-pointing in Sunninghill on Thursday night as officials of the SA Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the National Treasury tried to justify e-tolls.

The officials were drowned out at the public meeting on the e-toll system and programme director James Mlawu had to intervene and try to calm down the crowd.

Marissa Moore of the Treasury had to be rescued by the programme director as she was heckled by the crowds.

Moore told the crowds that traffic congestion was costing Gauteng R7 billion a year. It was also claiming lives, she said.

But the crowd yelled and told the officials they were not going to pay for e-tolls.

“This is daylight robbery. We are going to close these roads. We hope you are going to listen,” someone said.

Every response by officials, including

Sanral’s Alex van Niekerk, was met with anger.

A businessman, Brett Holley, was among 300 people who attended the public session that started in Kempton Park on Tuesday.

An angry Holley yelled: “This government does not listen. Government listens to violence.”

He warned that the gantries would be burnt.

Department of Transport spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said they believed the exercise was necessary. “Members of the public were given this platform to engage with government. They were allowed to raise their views. We are going to take their views on board.”

He added that their views would be submitted to Minister of Transport Ben Martins.

Rikhotso said this was the last public information session.

On October 26, the government and Sanral announced new tariffs for the proposed e-tolling.

This marked the beginning of a 30-day public consultation process, after which Martins would have a fortnight to “apply his mind”, followed by another fortnight to gazette the final tariffs. This means e-tolls could come into effect four days before Christmas.

The government has already contributed R5.75bn to the project, or 25 percent of the total debt owed by Sanral.

In August, the cabinet approved reduced toll tariffs for the N1 highway between Joburg and Pretoria.

Motorcyclists were expected to pay 24c/km, light motor vehicles 40c, medium vehicles R1 and “heavier” vehicles R2/km. Taxis and buses have been exempted.

Cosatu has called on all those affected by e-tolling in Gauteng to attend the public meetings.

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The Star