South Africa’s Gauteng Provincial Government will tomorrow (Wednesday, August 27) kick off its month-long consultation process on the impact of e-tolls in the province.
HumanIPO reported in June Gauteng premier David Makhura announced plans to review e-tolling in the province, saying the public had a right to be heard and that the local government should not close its eyes to criticism of the policy, which came into effect in December last year.
The Gauteng Advisory Panel on the Socio-economic Impact of E-tolls begins the consultation process tomorrow with organised labour in Midrand, and will spend one month soliciting views on the economic, social and environmental impacts of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and e-tolls.
The panel will consider the direct and indirect costs and benefits of e-tolling, focusing on expanding knowledge as well as exploring the implications and perceptions of financing the GFIP.
It also intends to expand public discussions on the GFIP and e-tolls, with organisations invited to respond to the information provided by the key implementers of the GFIP and e-tolls, and to address the economic and social impacts of GFIP and the e-tolls, the impact of e-tolls on the environment, and how and where the costs and benefits are distributed across society and the economy.
The panel said the process of consultation is an objective process with no pre-determined outcome, with Gauteng Provincial Government spokesperson Thabo Masebe saying the report to the Premier at the end of November will be in the form of analysis and recommendations grounded in substantial evidence.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) previously welcomed the review but also expressed caution that “this does not simply become another co-option tactic that degenerates into a meaningless talk shop”.
“It must be an honest and frank engagement by the authorities to unpack the real issues on the matter,” said spokesperson John Clarke.
“We have seen this before with the GFIP Steering Committee in 2011 and the Inter Ministerial Committee in 2012, at which we clearly determined there was no meaningful desire to seriously seek more efficient alternatives to Sanral’s e-toll plan”.
Opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) also welcome the review, but said the review should be undertaken by parliament since the system was introduced by legislature passed by the National Assembly.
“If the ANC-led government is indeed serious about responding to the public outcry against e-tolls, then our motion to have parliament review the e-tolls system should be welcomed by the minister of transport, Dipuo Peters,” said the DA.
It said South Africans cannot afford the extra financial burden of e-tolls and do not want the system to be imposed without meaningful consultation.
“Anything less than a recommendation of scrapping the system will not be a victory for the people of Gauteng, and the people of South Africa in places where further e-tolls could soon be imposed,” the party said.
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