Cosatu adamant on e-tolls

19 November 2012 - 02:03 By SIPHO MASOMBUKA
E-tolls. File photo
E-tolls. File photo

Labour federation Cosatu hopes the contentious Gauteng freeway e-tolling system will be discussed at the ruling party's elective congress in Mangaung next month.

Last week, public consultations on the looming e-tolling tariffs resulted in fierce opposition.

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said yesterday that the federation hoped that delegates to the ANC national conference in Mangaung would agree with Cosatu that tolling was not a fair or efficient way of raising money for road improvements.

He said that during public consultations Gauteng residents were "very angry at the government's refusal to debate the principle of tolls and tried to push discussions on the tariffs, which is not the main issue".

Craven said this gave the impression that government did not want a genuine public debate on issues of importance affecting people's lives.

He said people were against e-tolling in principle and felt that roads should be paid for by taxation.

Craven said that was why his organisation was continuing to mobilise mass action against the e-tolling system at the end of the month. Last month, new e-tolling tariffs were announced, and marked the beginning of a 30-day public consultation process after which Transport Minister Ben Martins would have 14 days in which to "apply his mind" in determining the future of e-tolling.

The NGO, Opposition to Urban Tolling charged that government would be wrong to continue with the system and disregard the mass rejection of it.

The NGO's chairman, Wayne Duvenage, said it would be unwise for the government to ignore the public outcry against e-tolls.

"If the government goes on with the e-tolls, it will mean it has no regard for what citizens feel about policies. It will be very wrong for the government to ignore the voices of the public as well as thousands of written submissions," he said.

Duvenage said it would be interesting to see the recommendations submitted to the cabinet by the inter-ministerial committee chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

"With these recommendations made public, we would be able to see the reasoning or logic on which the decision to continue with the e-tolling option, instead of a fuel levy, was based," he said.

The Pretoria High Court is expected to hear Opposition to Urban Tolling 's application to scrap e-tolls on Monday next week.

In September, the Constitutional Court set aside a Pretoria High Court interdict against the implementation of e-tolling.

The government will have a fortnight to gazette the final tariffs after Martins has applied his mind on the public consultations and written submissions.