DA to request meeting over e-tolls “rethink”

DA to request meeting over e-tolls “rethink”

South African opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) will request a meeting with Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi after he said the provincial government was taking a “second look” at the e-tolling policy.

E-tolling, which came into effect in December last year, has proved a controversial topic, and Vadi was quoted in the Sunday Independent as saying the Gauteng provincial government is considering scrapping it as a means of funding the building of highways.

Manny de Freitas, DA shadow minister of transport, said in a statement Vadi’s comments signified a “significant development” in the DA’s fight against the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and its “gangster gantries”, and that he would be requesting a formal meeting with Vadi to discuss the issue.

“The DA will also request that the Transport Portfolio Committee, at its first meeting, place e-tolls and Vadi’s proposed “second look” thereof on the agenda,” he said.

de Freitas said Vadi’s “concession” that no alternative funding model was considered and the current funding model was the subject of general dissatisfaction confirmed the DA’s suspicions over e-tolling.

“It is also a refreshing break from the ANC’s tone deaf party line on the issue,” he said. “This matter needs to be brought before the committee as a matter of urgency. Before the elections, it was agreed that the committee should invite parties with alternative views on e-tolls, particularly organisations such as OUTA (The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance), to present them to the committee.”

He said it was now time for the state to listen and make this a priority.

“e-tolls’ continued burden on society, particularly the poor cannot continue. Alternatives need to be considered in a rational and logical manner,” de Freitas said.

OUTA also welcomed the proposed rethink, saying e-tolling comes at excessive administrative costs and will never achieve high compliance, though chairperson Wayne Duvenage said the announcement causes confusion and the organisation is seeking “clarity on the statement”.

“The obvious question is, does SANRAL concur with the messages from MEC Vadi? If so, does this mean there is a ‘half-pregnant’ approach to the ill-conceived e-toll plan,” said Duvenage. “If indeed the scheme is questionable and regarded as ineffective, then it goes without saying that the entire scheme should be set aside until a more efficient and equitable solution is found and not just for future road upgrade plans.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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