New toll system now hangs in the balance

THE controversial toll system mooted for Gauteng highways now hangs in the balance after the province's ANC demanded answers

The ruling party's executive working committee lambasted the system - which the SA Roads Agency Limited was set to introduce in June - when they met on Monday.

They said the tolls - which would see road users charged 66c a kilometre - were imposed without consulting the province's residents.

On Friday the Gauteng ANC executive committee will hold an extended meeting to evaluate the tolling system and how it will impact on residents' lives as well as the provincial economy.

Those close to the discussions in the ANC said yesterday that Transport Minister S'bu Ndebele will now be forced to review the proposed toll fees.

The toll system, from which Sanral is expected to earn R300million a month, was intended to fund the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. The project was aimed at reducing congestion on the country's busiest highways and includes widening the roads and constructing additional on and off-ramps in some of the most congested areas.

Ndebele yesterday told Parliament that motorists in Gauteng had a choice to use public transport and would not be forced to use back roads.

"When you go on a bus or on a taxi through this Gauteng improvement scheme and you have to pay the toll, what we are saying as a Department of Transport is that if you are coming by bus or coming by taxi, we give you 75 percent discount," he said.

But Dumisa Ntuli, spokesperson for the ANC in Gauteng, said in the absence of reliable and efficient public transport, Ndebele's tolling system would have disastrous consequences.

He said the ruling party was worried about the financial burden residents and business would have to carry if the system goes ahead as planned.

Thabisho Molelekwa, spokesperson for the SA National Taxi Council, said they were scheduled to meet with Sanral today to discuss possible exemptions for minibus taxis from the toll.

"The victims will be those with low incomes, those going for interviews, or those with part-time and informal jobs. You have to look at all the socio-economic factors," he said. - The Times

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