Like it or not, you will pay toll fees
The cabinet has stuck to its guns on the controversial Gauteng freeway tolls, saying the implementation date of April 1 will not change.
Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency responsible for performance, monitoring and evaluation, said though the government had noted massive support for labour federation Cosatu's protest action against e-tolling on Wednesday, this had not changed its position on making motorists pay for using improved Gauteng freeways.
"You would not have expected [the] cabinet to make a decision on the basis of a march.
"Government has made a decision and government is going to proceed and implement that decision," he said.
Chabane was addressing journalists at a post-cabinet media briefing in Cape Town yesterday.
The cabinet said the government had consulted various stakeholders over a long period on the e-tolling system on upgraded Gauteng freeways and had made available almost R6-billion to support the project and minimise the impact on consumers.
Its statement said this had resulted in "significantly reduced" toll fees.
The poor had also been exempted from paying toll fees when using Gauteng freeways.
The planned tolling of Gauteng freeways was introduced to help the SA National Roads Agency to pay back more than R59-billion it had borrowed to upgrade roads nationally.
Gauteng freeways alone have cost Sanral R20-billion to upgrade.
In terms of the new price regime for e-tolls, the per-kilometre fee for private motorists has gone down from 66c to 30c for e-tag holders.
Light vehicles and motorbikes that travel on the highway frequently will pay a capped fee of R550 a month if they have e-tags.
Smaller trucks have to fork out 75c a kilometre and bigger size trucks a whopping R1.51 a kilometre.
Heavy-duty vehicles will benefit from a 20% discount for using the freeways outside morning and afternoon peak hours.
More than 150 000 people took to the streets of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban in support of Cosatu's protest action against e-tolling and to back calls for labour brokers to be banned.
The labour federation has argued that exempting commuter taxis and buses would not ease the burden on workers because a large number were forced to use their own private vehicles due to the poor state of the country's public transport system.
The SACP, Cosatu and ANC's alliance partner, entered the debate yesterday, saying the government had prioritised incorrectly when it spent more than R20-billion on widening freeways in Gauteng.
"The public transport that workers depend upon - minibuses, buses and Metrorail - is often inaccessible, unsafe, overcrowded and expensive. Our township roads are often pot-holed.
"Our rural roads and bridges become dangerous when it rains," it said.