'E-toll hearing futile'
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has put a halt on all future tolling projects.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says the hearing into e-tolling at the Gauteng Legislature will be futile.
After receiving several petitions against e-tolling, the Gauteng Legislature combined them into one and announced it would host a hearing on the matter on 11 November.
It believes it is through this process that parties will begin finding a solution to the tollgates impasse in the province.
However, Cosatu says this process will be futile if the current project is already set to move ahead. Last month, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele put a halt on all future tolling projects, but said this does not include e-tolling, which would definitely go ahead in February. For this reason, Cosatu says the hearing will be futile.
“There will be no solution to the impasse if objectors at the hearing are told the current tolling project is going ahead anyway, and they can only raise issues about future tolling plans, in which case, this hearing will be a futile exercise.”
The federation says it will insist at the hearing that e-tolling has never been properly debated, and has not been accepted by the people of Gauteng.
“The current tolling project must be scrapped. The tolls will mean a steep increase in the cost of living of all road users, especially workers who have no alternative but to drive to work, because of the lack of a proper public transport system. They already pay taxes and a fuel levy every time they buy petrol.”
If there is no change in policy from government, the negotiations deadlock, and tolls are not scrapped, Cosatu will plan marches, demonstrations, pickets and stay-aways.
“We are confident that thousands of other Gauteng residents will be joining us in these protests. We shall also consider court action if people are discriminated [against] on the basis of geography. We shall continue to demand, as the alternative to tolled roads, an integrated, safe, reliable and affordable public transport system.”
Fees initially gazetted for the e-toll system in February were suspended due to public pressure. Cabinet in August approved reduced tariffs for e-tolling in Gauteng, which dictate that motorcycles (Class A1) with e-tags will pay 24c/km; light vehicles (Class A2) will pay 40c/km; medium vehicles (Class B) 100c/km; and “longer” vehicles (Class C) 200c/km.
Qualifying commuter taxis (Class A2) and commuter buses (Class B) are completely exempt from the e-toll system. The reduction for light vehicles without e-tags saw a drop from 66c/km to 58c/km, and from R3.95/km for heavy vehicles without e-tags to R2.95/km. The e-tolling project is an open road, multilane toll infrastructure that allows tolls to be charged without drivers having to stop. There are no physical booths.
The system is set to go live in February, despite strong opposition from labour, political parties and citizens.