No decision on Gauteng toll tariffs yet
No decision has been made yet on the toll road tariffs, the Gauteng transport department said on Monday.
"The tariffs will be announced by Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele in due course, after studying the final recommendations of the steering committee as well as consultation with the political oversight committee," transport director general George Mahlalela said in a statement.
Mahlalela, who also chairs the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project toll steering committee, described as "inaccurate" a report in The Star newspaper that the e-toll system was here to stay and that the proposed tariff of 66c/km for ordinary cars may not change.
"This type of reporting by certain sections of the media is totally mischievous," he said.
"Comments and proposals received from organised formations and civil society has been overwhelming, with the initial deadline of 30 April 2011 for submission of the report having to be shifted.
"And, with the majority of South Africans taking the Easter holiday break, the steering committee also had to reschedule its follow-up engagement and consultation with stakeholders."
The matter needed to be dealt with thoroughly, said Mahlalela, moving to reassure South Africans that the government was doing everything possible to resolve the matter in the best interest of the commuter, road-user, the state, and of road infrastructure development and management.
The Star based its article on a report by the steering committee which was sent to various organisations that publicly opposed the toll fees.
According to the newspaper, the report did not say what the toll tariffs would be, but it defended the calculation used to determine the original tariff of 66c/km.
It dismissed every proposal made by civil society organisations.
It also detailed why the open tolling structure was decided on as the best strategy and gave no recommendations or alternatives.
The SA National Roads Agency Limited announced in February that it would charge 66c/km at 42 electronic toll gates erected on the N1, N3, N12, N17, R21 and R24. The tolls cover a distance of about 185km.
Concern was raised by businesses, labour and political parties about the effect the toll fees would have on the poor, the economy and alternative routes.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng rejected the steering committee's analysis as "partial and biased".
"We are paying the price of very poor planning by the Gauteng roads and transport department. A key question not answered by the report is how much we are really paying for the e-tolling collection system," DA MPL Neil Campbell said in a statement.
"We hope that we will get honest answers at the final consultation meeting to be held this Thursday," he said.
Freedom Front Plus transport spokesman Anton Alberts said the party would oppose any high tariffs.
"The FF Plus intends to get all the role players who are opposed to the high tariffs to work together in order to form a larger pressure group against high toll tariffs. Cooperation between the role players in opposing the tariffs could even include legal action," he said.