OUTA continues to fight e-tolls
Wayne Duvenage, chairperson of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA), says the authorities are blinkered on the matter of e-tolls and refuse to see the logic in using more efficient revenue collection methods.
This is his response, after legislation paving the way for putting e-tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) into practice, was approved by the National Assembly.
Upon introducing debate on the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, Transport Minister, Ben Martins, said the bill was essential to enable the appropriate implementation of the e-tolling system.
The bill was passed to implement GFIP and to facilitate provision of public transport and other projects around Gauteng.
Martins rejected calls for e-tolls to be scrapped and said that the non-collection of tolls might impact negatively on the ability of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to raise capital for infrastructure development projects.
The bill was strongly opposed by most opposition parties, with Ian Ollis, from the Democratic Alliance, naming it the world’s most expensive toll collection system.
Duvenage says the matter has become a one-sided party political issue. “Virtually every other party opposed the bill in parliament, with the African National Congress simply using its majority to ram-rail the bill through the system,” he says.
“What the authorities are ignoring is the fact that an overwhelming majority of society has rejected e-tolling and without that support and trust, the cumbersome and inefficient systems run the risk of failure, as this has happened in other parts of the world.” he adds.
An application by OUTA to do away with e-tolling was dismissed in December 2012, by the High Court of Pretoria. On January 25, 2013, the court granted OUTA leave to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, where a date for the hearing is yet to be set.
Duvenage reveals that OUTA is confident of its challenge to have the current e-toll plan declared illegal.
He comments: “Until then, should the authorities ram the system into being, they will have to contend with the consequences of a backlash and rejection from society, as well as with the possibility of the system being ruled to be unlawful at a later stage.”