Motorists makes their way along the N1 highway. Picture: Itumeleng English
WHILE preparations for #PeoplesMarchGP against e-tolls are ongoing, the ElectronicToll Collection (ETC) company yesterday attempted to convince motorists to comply with the user-pay system.

This was during a seminar hosted by ETC to discuss ways of improving traffic in the province.

The #PeoplesMarchGP takes place from Burgers Park to the Union Buildings, in response to “the plight of the people of Gauteng” who have rejected e-tolls and the cost of living.

At the seminar, ETC head Coenie Vermaak said road users may not be ready for e-tolling, but the system ensured “big brother” was always looking after them.

With an estimated 12009553 cars registered in January last year - 4643741 in Gauteng alone - traffic was an everyday struggle for road users.

And with car ownership to increase over the years, Vermaak said traffic would not get any better without some form of intervention.

“This is where the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project comes in; to provide motorists and Gauteng residents with a much-needed solution to congestion woes,” said Vermaak.

He said the project wanted to reduce traffic congestion, improve quality of life, support economic growth and improve the environment, as well as sustainable freeway development in phases.

“Ultimately, its benefits would help with travel time saved, better incident management, linking impoverished communities with economic hubs and facilitating investment into new economic hubs,” Vermaak said.

He said the user-pays principle was not so far-fetched.

“There is a change in society that wants to rebuild itself from the ashes of corruption. We have to take responsibility for the future, and this can create jobs and economic stimuli.

“Through projects like this, people have the ease of mind that at any given moment there is one of 4000 cameras watching them in case of emergency or if they get stuck on the road.”

He said there was no need for people to worry about settling their historic debt, but as soon as people became compliant, they would build more roads.

Additionally, if there were accidents, the ETC could now provide emergency vehicles that could reach motorists within eight minutes, and towing to the nearest drop-off location free of charge. These included motorcycle medical response units, medical and incident response unit bakkies, and towing recovery units.

For those worried about accumulated debt, Vermaak said they need not worry as they were working with the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to encourage people to start getting on board with the project.

“Historic debt is a major stumbling block; so we’re looking at some solutions with Sanral to say how people can avoid repaying the debt ,but as long as they are compliant every year they get a discount on that debt.”

He said these and other solutions would be presented to the Ministry of Transport by the end of the month.

He said those paying might only have to pay a maximum capped cost of R266 per month.