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Sat Nov 01 16:02:39 SAST 2014

Why won't the government come clean on e-tolling?

The Times Editorial | 27 November, 2012 00:07

The Times Editorial: Revelations that a "cartel" controls our tolled roads have left a bitter taste in the mouths of many people. Decisions about the expensive Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project have been clouded in secrecy, in the same way as the multibillion-rand arms deal.

REVELATIONS that a "cartel" controls our tolled roads have left a bitter taste in the mouths of many people. Decisions about the expensive Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project have been clouded in secrecy, in the same way as the multibillion-rand arms deal.

Promises have been made, agreements have been signed and the government expects South Africans, Gauteng motorists specifically, to grin and bear it as a new tax is added to their already stretched budgets.

Groups opposed to e-tolling, such as the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and union federation Cosatu, are trying to ensure that the powers that be do not ride roughshod over suffering motorists.

Despite Transport Minister Ben Martins' decision to postpone the debating of the e-tolls bill to February, Cosatu will go ahead with its public demonstrations against the tolls on Friday.

Outa slugged it out with the SA National Roads Agency in court yesterday to ensure that light is shone on the decision-making that has saddled Gauteng motorists with a multibillion-rand roads headache.

The Automobile Association and the road freight industry have urged the government to rethink its fundraising strategy. The fuel levy, which generates more than R35-billion a year, has been mentioned as one source of funding.

The government runs the risk of being embarrassed by its alliance partner, Cosatu, and of turning normally law-abiding citizens into defiant law-breakers. It is annoying when our elected representatives make decisions without taking into consideration the financial havoc they will unleash.

Because of our inefficient public transport, it is hard for people to stand up and show the government that they will not be taken for a ride.

The government knows it has motorists cornered, but are transparency and efficiency too much to ask? An efficient way must be found to fund our national roads network.

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