Wise step over tolls
SEEMINGLY, the only way the government could wriggle out of the e-tolling quagmire is by restarting the consultative process in a most acceptable manner.
From April 30 motorists in possession of e-tags will pay 30c a kilometre to use the freeways.
Toll fee guidelines published by the Department of Transport last week show that motorists who are not e-toll compliant could pay as much as R1.75c a kilometre to use freeways.
In a commendable act of apparent compromise, South African National Road Agency Limited CEO Nazir Allie has made an impassioned plea to motorists to pay their e-toll fees when they use Gauteng freeways from April 30.
Allie revealed that Sanral did not have the power to arrest defaulters and would rely on law enforcement agencies to deal with defaulters.
He further explained that Sanral did not intend to arrest anybody for the nonpayment of tolls, "nor do we have the power to impound anybody's vehicle".
This comes at the back of government spokesman Jimmy Manyi having agitated the public with utterances that were widely described as being arrogant when he said the e-toll system was a reality that everyone had no choice but to get used to.
At the same time there were rumours that registration to the e-tolling system would be linked to motor vehicle licence disc application and there would be a special army of enforcers on the affected freeways to ensure motorists toed the line.
Concerned citizens, led by the Congress of SA Trade Unions, have staged protest marches opposed to the e-toll system. Other lobby groups have lodged urgent court applications to halt the system's implementation. Almost everyone is opposed to this system.
The dissenters have reached consensus that motorists are set to be left the poorer in the long run. It is not too late to do the right thing.
Some of the "conscientious" objectors are contemplating using the backroads or "alternative routes" .
This is bound to lead to congestion and possibly increase the road accident tolls and fatalities.
The law enforcement personnel is stretched. Will it cope with the influx?
Cosatu has planned another round of protest marches that are set to coincide with the e-toll system's launch date.
It will not surprise to see more drastic opposition to this system, unless a compromise is reached.