Strong opposition to e-tolls disregarded by IMC by Clem Sunter
Given the extent of discussions between various parties during the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) led process, one expects that the basis of their e-toll recommendation to Cabinet would have been made public. Instead, the general public is merely told that they will proceed with e-tolling and that Government will review tariffs at the end of next month. In addition, despite the perception that Government would like to create, todays Gazetted tariffs are no different to those published, and subsequently withdrawn, earlier this year.
Government has also been selective about their claimed support for the user pay principle. While many may agree with the theory of user pay, most reject it in the application of GFIP e- tolling, as it imposes caps on high volume users and exempts others which contradicts a user pay principle, aside from the simple fact that a user pay policy is not applied consistently by Government.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) has consistently said that they are willing to pay for GFIP and other national road projects but reject the excessive and unnecessary costs associated with e-tolling. The national fuel levy is one source of funding which can be used to fund prioritised national road projects. In fact, the various e-toll economic reports commissioned by SANRAL themselves, promote the fuel levy and direct transfers from the fiscus as the most cost efficient method of funding infrastructure projects well ahead of e-tolling which comes with massive administrative burdens and costs.
OUTA rejects todays claim by the Minister of Transport that an increase in the fuel levy, to fund GFIP and other national roads, will add to inflation and impacts on those who do not use GFIP. The national implementation of e-tolling with its undetermined administrative and enforcement costs will have a greater impact on inflation. The Minister has also conveniently disregarded the fact that Gauteng contributes the majority of the national fuel levy which in turn is redistributed to the various Proveniences via the Division of Revenue Act. We must also not lose sight of the fact that productivity gains generated by improved roads and infrastructure within Gauteng, as the economic hub of South Africa, benefits the whole country.
OUTA is disappointed by the approach of both the IMC and Government to disregard the strong opposition to e-tolling. The pro e-toll arguments remain weak and the benefits claimed have been discredited. We encourage the public to use the opportunity to comment on the Proposed Toll Tariffs (Gazette # 35756) and the Toll Exemptions (Gazette # 35755) which have been published in the Government Gazette. A clear message of e-toll rejection should be e-mailed to email@example.com.
OUTA’s legal case, on behalf of its very broadly based support in society, gets stronger every day and we look forward to the start of the e-toll judicial review on 26 November which will again highlight the complete inadequacy of Governments e-toll motivation. Despite the confidentiality constraints placed on OUTA, its latest supplementary responding affidavit has now been uploaded to its website but with the confidential statements blanked out, as per SANRAL’s insistence.
OUTA again calls on the general public and business to financially support its ongoing and increasingly expensive legal engagement with our Government who are able to use tax payer’s money, from all around the country and not just Gauteng, to fund their legal costs.