E-tolls: Feb implementation unconfirmed

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February has not been confirmed as the implementation period for e-tolling, according to the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral).

Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Sidumo Dlamini was quoted in the media as yesterday saying e-tolling will be rolled out in February.

He said the federation was provided with responses to its e-toll concerns by the ANC this week. The ANC and an inter-ministerial committee on e-tolling have been holding engagements on the controversial system, since a Constitutional Court judgement made in September allowed it to be rolled out despite the pending judicial review to be held in November.

Dlamini said the response indicated lower tariffs as well, down to 30c/km.

However, the agency says the information regarding the tariffs and the implementation period is all speculation and until an official statement is made by the Department of Transport (DOT) on the matter, nothing is confirmed.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe confirms the party met with Cosatu this week but refuses to divulge any details of the meeting.

DOT spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso says the e-toll matter was discussed in Cabinet and some clarity will be given in the post-Cabinet statement.

OUTA chairperson Wayne Duvenage says government needs the public on board for e-tolling, as similar systems around the world have collapsed due to public rejection.

"It's all our speculation, but this is why they will reduce the tariffs and the cap (previously R550). But it doesn't matter how much you reduce the fees, the public doesn't trust the system and doesn't trust that there won't be increases. Reductions don't take away the cost of e-tolling and how inefficient it is."

He adds that government is not ready to implement the system now. "They can't launch before Christmas. There's no way; so it will be in the new year."

New tariffs

Speaking at the launch of transport month early in October, transport minister Ben Martins said outstanding regulations for the controversial e-toll system would be gazetted in the next few days.

However, Cabinet only today approved the gazetting of terms and conditions, including updated tariffs that will apply to the system. Government has not yet indicated what these tariffs are.

This follows a briefing yesterday by the inter-ministerial committee on e-tolling to Cabinet.

The Cabinet approval marks a 30-day period for public comment, allowing for those that did not engage in the stakeholder meetings to make their input, according to government.

"Government will, at the end of 30 days, incorporate this round of public comment and publish its final position after a further 14 days."

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