The insistence on implementing e-tolls, even under a new hybrid funding model, is yet another indication that government is not listening to the concerns of motorists in Gauteng on this issue. This is the view of the Automobile Association (AA), which was commenting on statements by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who was replying to questions in Parliament on Wednesday.
“Hundreds of individuals and organisations who gave input to the Gauteng e-Toll Advisory Panel (including the AA) clearly rejected e-tolls as a funding model for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). To suggest that the reduced e-tolling rate is based on submissions to the Advisory Panel is misleading,” the Association said.
“Furthermore, Mr Ramaphosa indicated that the costs of the e-tolls reduced the burden on the poor and low-income earners. This is not the case. The higher administration costs associated with e-tolls will, in the short and long-term, have major implications for the poor and low-income earners. If people are forced to pay e-tolls they will cut other expenses and this will impact negatively on marginalised communities,” added the AA.
The Association said it was concerned that after the lengthy sitting of the e-toll Advisory Panel government is persisting with e-tolls despite overwhelming public sentiment against such a move.
“Mr Ramaphosa indicated last night that thousands of people are enquiring about the reduced tariffs and taking up the offer of discounts. We call on SANRAL to provide audited numbers of motorists who have bought e-tags and who have taken up the offers of discounts to support this assertion,” said the AA.
The Association reiterated its view that the new dispensation announced in May was an opportunity missed by government to deal once and for all with the unnecessarily burdensome funding model for e-tolls.
“Our view, as it has been since the outset, is that a portion of the fuel levy must be ring-fenced to fund the GFIP. We support initiatives to improve roads in all provinces but funding these improvements through e-tolls is not the answer, as the unnecessary administration costs place an extra burden on motorists and the South African taxpayer,” added the Association.