The government has been warned to scrap e-tolls as the only compassionate thing to do in the light of the economic hardship faced by Gauteng citizens.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in Gauteng said e-tolls should go because they had no value and merely added a needless and disproportionate taxation burden to the already financially strained Gauteng citizens and businesses.
IFP Gauteng chairperson, Bonginkosi Dhlamini, said instead of adding value, e-tolls diminished the worth of the province’s economy and demoralised its motorists who were singled out to pay for social infrastructure which sustained province, the whole country and its neighbours.
In a debate on e-tolls in the legislature on Tuesday, Dhlamini said the system added a heavy load onto the economy, which had been trashed by the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
With economic activity dampened and hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, “we still must contend with the issue of whether to scrap the e-tolls or not”.
“It is as though the citizens of this province signed up for the e-tolling system in the first place, forgetting that the citizens of Gauteng were barely consulted over the system and them bearing the costs of it,” Dhlamini said.
Gauteng’s opposition towards paying for the e-tolling system was palpable as evidenced by South African National Roads Agency Limited’s (Sanral’s) admission that less than 20% of Gauteng’s motorists were compliant with the payment of e-tolls.
The agency recorded a R14 billion revenue loss last year, with an estimated R9.8 billion of that due to non-payment of e-tolls.
Gauteng citizens could not take the fall for the consistently erroneous and callous decisions of the ANC-led government, said Dhlamini.
He said the IFP they believed that e-tolling was and remains an irrational and unfeasible system. The system failed in Portugal and in 2017, the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) gave damning judgments against the implementation of planned e-tolls in the City of Cape Town, precisely because of its unfairness and inequitable distribution.
“The people of this province are tired of the series of promises for decisive action around the e-toll system. The dithering must stop.
“For some time now, the promise of a Cabinet decision on the matter has been pending. I hope by the end of this month that decision will have been taken, as promised by the Minister of Transport. But as we wait, allow me to give a word of caution for the government not to take the people of Gauteng for granted,” Dhlamini said.
The e-toll system, in its current form, simply needs to be scrapped for that is the only rational and compassionate thing to do,” he said.