The first in a series of public consultations about the Gauteng freeway tolling project has begun and concerns raised about how the tariffs were decided and why the province’s freeway improvements should be tolled at all.
The steering committee on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, headed by transport director-general George Mahlalela, met with those involved from the business fraternity on March 24, 2011, to discuss the proposed tolling of the freeways through Gauteng.
The toll fees were set at 66c/km before a public outcry forced them on to hold and a committee was formed to reassess the pricing. The project was due to become operational from June, 2011.
Those present at the March 24 session included representatives from Business Unity South Africa (Busa), the Road Freight Association, Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing, Automobile Association, National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, the Retail Motor Industry and Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier, Busa said the proposed toll fees would weaken the competitiveness of the South African economy. "Business believes the current tariff proposal and mooted e-tolling will weaken the competitiveness of our economy and therefore the ability of the economy to create jobs.”
The funding model proposed by the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) needed to be reconsidered, Busa added.
"The use of funds raised through the fuel levy should be completely reconsidered, including the ring-fencing of funds for road construction and maintenance," it said. "In particular, since the e-toll systems are mooted to be replicated in the City of Cape Town and eThekwini municipalities, Busa believes the better leveraging of the fuel levy may make for a much more predictable, simple, measurable and equitable 'user pays' mechanism."
The Department of Transport reported receiving several written submissions from organised society and the public, mostly raising concerns and indicating dissatisfaction about the proposed tariffs, after the tolling announcement
Some issues raised at Thursday’s meeting included procedure in the consultation process, how the tariffs were decided, why they seemed expensive, the reason for the tolling of the freeway improvement project, the lack of proper planning and how to make alternative means of transport available, and finding other ways to fund the improvements.
Further public consultations are scheduled for the first two weeks of April, 2011.
The tolls are part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which includes widening roads, easing congestion at bottlenecks and improving lighting.
Managed by Sanral, it aims to upgrade 560km of roads in the province.
PUBLIC CONSULTATION: A steering committee has been launched to investigate the proposed tolling of Gauteng's freeway system. The first public meeting was held on Thursday, March 24, 2011.
Story courtesy of: www.wheels24.co.za 29/03/2010