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Fri May 27 04:21:50 SAST 2016

Scrap e-tolls, says panel

Penwell Dlamini and Kingdom Mabuza | 01 December, 2014 00:05
The provincial ANC rejected e-tolling at its elective conference last month but national Transport Minister Dipuo Peters insisted that e-tolling was national policy. File photo
Image by: RUSSELL ROBERTS

E-tolls must go.

This is the recommendation of an advisory panel established by Gauteng Premier David Makhura that submitted its report yesterday.

It will be up to the national government to decide whether to scrap Gauteng's controversial multibillion-rand e-tolling system but The Times understands from provincial ANC insiders that the report explicitly rejects e-tolling and recommends that the system be abolished.

Makhura refused to discuss the report, instead pleading with the media to allow the provincial government to study it first.

But information given to The Times shows that the panellists believe e-tolling will "strangle" the Gauteng economy and damage the national economy.

An ANC source said: "The report rejects e-tolls. It says e-tolls must be discontinued. The recommendations are that, overwhelmingly, the people of Gauteng do not want this thing."

He said the report was needed to show the national leadership of the ANC that the party would be "punished again, like in the previous elections", if it continued with e-tolling.

"The national government must know that if we continue with it we have no mandate from the people of Gauteng."

The provincial ANC rejected e-tolling at its elective conference last month but national Transport Minister Dipuo Peters insisted that e-tolling was national policy.

Another ANC insider said the possibility of a review of e-tolling could have serious implications for President Jacob Zuma.

"They [the Gauteng ANC] might use it to strike Msholozi [Zuma] . They will say: 'The people have spoken and now here is scientific evidence. What should we do?'

"Msholozi should have supported Makhura's leadership and withdrawn e-tolls because they will hit him hard," he said.

A provincial government official said the report suggested that the national government devolve powers to the province.

"But this will have many implications."

He said the original plan was to toll roads on the periphery of Gauteng and use the revenue generated to help smaller municipalities.

"But the system was implemented throughout the province .

"Once you start with urban tolling you interfere with a number of economic activities, and that has an impact on the poor. The report is intended to demonstrate that, and also to say that if you feel so strongly about these issues, why don't you devolve more power to the province?"

Makhura said the provincial government would not waste time and would immediately start studying the findings and recommendations.

"This will enable us to engage both the national and local governments.

"Early in the new year we will conclude our process and make a determination. We will then release a report.

"We are not a government that wants to keep issues of public interest secret."

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