E-tolling consultations a farce: Vavi

2012-10-26 12:37
Sabelo Ndlangisa
Trade union Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has described the 30-day consultation period the public has to comment on the government’s proposed e-toll tariffs a “farce and a pretence” as the government had made up its mind on e-tolling.

“We don’t believe the government will take any person making a submission seriously,” he said.

The government this morning gazetted its proposed e-tolls tariffs, giving an indication that it wants Gauteng freeways to be tolled before the end of the year.

The public has 30 days from today to comment on the proposed tariffs, and the agreed tariffs are likely to kick in sometime in December once consultations have been concluded.

Transport Minister Ben Martins said the controversial tolls would be capped at R550 for light vehicles that have tags.

The 58 cents per kilometre rate is a reduction from 66 cents that the government had initially wanted motorists to fork out.

The government says the majority of light vehicle drivers, 96.3% of them, would pay less than R300 a month if the proposed tariffs are implemented.

Only 0.2% will reach the full monthly cap of R500.

Martins said the government shared the public concerns about the costs and thus reduced the tariffs and provided discounts on tagged vehicles.
However, the government did not accept the proposal that a fuel levy could be used as an alternative to e-tolling.

“An increase in the fuel levy would mean that every car owner in the country would pay even if they don’t travel on these roads.

“This would ultimately have a direct impact on the cost of transportation of goods and services throughout the country and lead to inflationary pressures. In South Africa, taxes generated through the fuel levy are not sufficient to address infrastructure requirements,” he said.

Alex van Niekerk, the SA National Roads Agency’s project manager, said emergency and public transport vehicles would be exempted from e-tolling.

Some categories of users, such as the disabled, would be allowed to apply for exemptions.

Vavi said Cosatu would consider accepting e-tolling if it was for a limited period, but feels that the minimum period of 24 years for paying off the debt was too much.

He said the labour federation was consulting Nedlac, the body comprising government, business, labour and community organisations, about whether it should revive its earlier application for a strike in opposition to tolling, or whether it should make a fresh application.