Penalising Gauteng motorists over e-tolls is declaration of war, says SANCO
Pretoria - The South African National Civic Organization (SANCO) in Gauteng province on Monday warned national roads agency SANRAL against reported plans to punish motorists who are not paying controversial e-tolls by blocking them from renewing annual vehicle licences.
Motorists have for years resisted paying the e-tolls to fund highway upgrades through the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). The provincial government is also against the tolls, arguing that it is unfair to place the cost on just one province when the freeway network serves the entire country.
On Monday, SANCO said any punitive moves against motorists by SANRAL “will be a sign of declaring a war against SANCO, its members and the entire Gauteng community”.
The warning came after media reports at the weekend suggested the roads agency might bar e-toll defaulters from renewing vehicle licences.
“All motorists must be allowed to renew their licenses without being subjected to pay e-tolls that were imposed on the people,” SANCO Gauteng chairman Chris Malematja said in a statement.
“We are rejecting them and no one including SANRAL must try to force residents of this province to pay. We will remain ready to defend the motorists’ rights that are violated by SANRAL and some individual politicians who may be benefiting from the e-tolls scam.”
The civic gorup also urged Gauteng Premier David Makhura to honour his promise to engage Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula over the issue.
“We (hope) that he is not neutralised and his position to stand with the people of Gauteng against e-tolls remains unshaken,” Malematja said.
SANCO warned that if SANRAL pressed on with the punitive measures “residents of this province will ensure that the provincial economy comes to a standstill” by blocking movement into and out of Gauteng on the eve of Good Friday, which falls on April 2 this year, and traditionally sees a lot of inter-provincial travel for the Easter holidays.
Last week, Gauteng member of the executive council for public transport and roads infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo reiterated the provincial government’s long-standing opposition to the e-tolls.
Mamabolo said he had in November written to Mbalula registering the provincial government’s rejection of proposed Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) regulations as another method of enforcing the tolls on Gauteng residents.
African News Agency (ANA)