'Greed drives road tolls'

BUSINESS organisations and unions have lashed out at the new open-road toll system, saying it will constrain small business development and have a negative effect on the poor.

The new tolling system, scheduled to start in Gauteng in June, will see motorists with specialised e-tags pay 44 cents a kilometre while those who do not have them will pay 66 cents a kilometre.

This means motorists who travel daily between Pretoria and Johannesburg should budget between R10000 to R12000 additional costs a year.

Peggy Drodskie, chief operations officer at the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they were not in favour of "the development".

She said during consultation, business objected to the implementation of the tolls, "particularly on existing roads such as the N1".

She said fuel was already highly taxed and part of the tax collected went to infrastructure.

"The implementation of the tolls will certainly have a negative impact on the cost of doing business and will constrain the ability of small and medium enterprises to expand their operations beyond the immediate neighbourhood where they operate," Drodskie said.

She said the tolling would add to transport costs that would filter down to the costs of goods and services.

The Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it had put up a number of counter-arguments.

As the kilometre costs were not finalised, its chief executive Keith Brebnor said they had told the SA National Roads Agency Limited that more costs would be added to the taxpayer and business to upgrade the roads because R33billion had been spent on the Gautrain corridor .

"We do believe it will affect the cost of doing business quite radically in the light of the new growth path, and the need to reach the required job targets," said Brebnor.

Dumisani Dakile, general secretary of Cosatu in Gauteng, said: "This will have an impact on the poor in the province and in particular for workers.

"The introduction of the tolls will increase the costs of transport for our members and workers in general."

Neil Campbell, the DA's Gauteng spokesperson on roads and transport, said motorists had already paid for roads through levies on fuel and provincial licences.

"This is greed," he said.

"There must be a reliable, punctual, safe and affordable public transport service which will serve as an alternative."

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