Government finally starts consulting civil society.
Today OUTA met with Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula in Pretoria to share our input and views on the Gauteng e-toll impasse and to discuss solutions.
This is the first time since the inception of e-tolls (besides an inter-ministerial process in 2012) that a Minister of Transport has been willing to engage with OUTA on the e-toll debacle.
In July, the Minister was mandated by Cabinet to work with Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni and Gauteng Premier David Makhura to find a solution to the e-toll problem by the end of August. The decision on the future of e-tolls is still awaited.
OUTA shared with the Minister our extensive research and empirical evidence which gives substantive input as to why e-tolls failed and cannot be resurrected, along with alternative solutions which could have, and still can be, implemented. This evidence is outlined in OUTA’s 60-page e-toll position paper, Getting Beyond the E-toll Impasse. This document was also shared with the Minister and is available on OUTA’s website.
“OUTA trusts that the Minister and his team will take heed of the input provided when finding a solution to the e-toll debacle,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO.
OUTA informed the Minister, amongst other things, that the e-toll scheme has failed and barely covers the toll collection costs. The system is inefficient and plagued with billing and other technical challenges. OUTA wants the Gauteng Freeway Improvement (GFIP) construction costs to be investigated by an independent inquiry, and an investigation into why the ETC operations service fee is excessive and 75% higher than the figure tendered.
This is a financing issue and OUTA suggested the Minister explores the various funding options presented, including Treasury allocations from the national fiscus (which are used to fund over 83% of SANRAL’s roads) and/or a hybrid of the fuel levy which may be supported partially by a small inland fuel levy.
OUTA has also called for a Road Funding Committee to be established, comprising SANRAL, the Construction Industry Development Board, the National Treasury and civil society, to find solutions to SANRAL’s funding crisis and get road construction back on track.
OUTA has opposed the e-toll system as irrational, overpriced, legally flawed scheme since February 2012.
Compliance by motorists has dropped from the scheme’s highest point of 40% in June 2014 to around 20%, today bringing in just R55m a month, which is a shortfall of almost R250m per month.
OUTA will continue to oppose the Gauteng e-tolls scheme and work with Government to introduce alternative solutions.