There are definitely other options to keeping gantries
The infamous e-tolls are back in the news yet again.
Gauteng premier David Makhura opened a can of worms last week when he mentioned in his state of the province address that the gantries must go. This led to a twar (Twitter war) between him and finance minister Tito Mboweni at the weekend, which then resulted in the forming of a presidential task team.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has stated that a decision on the future of the e-tolls will be made by the end of August.
Gauteng motorists eagerly await the decision and whether or not they need to worry about their outstanding accounts - which now amount to billions of rands in unpaid tolls.
Mbalula has, however, stated that the economic burden of e-tolls cannot be ignored, which means that money has to come from somewhere to pay the debt.
There are alternatives to the system though. The government just has to be open-minded to it.
For example, the system comprises a camera on every lane of the highway at every gantry. If the system were to change from one of tolling to that of average speed cameras, like we see in other provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, then the people would have no choice but to pay; this time for breaking the law and receiving a fine for speeding.
Speeding is a choice that one makes and not a grudge payment that we are told to pay, like the e-tolling system.
Hundreds of thousands of motorists driving on our freeways, just going a little faster on their commute, would generate some serious money for the government.
Guaranteed money that we have no choice about paying, because we broke the law. The freeways would even be safer as less speeding means fewer accidents, which would save the government money in the long term as well.
Look at it this way - the e-toll monthly cap for a class A2 vehicle is R276, that is what the government would get from a road user for one month of using the tolled roads. Now let us say that we drive 11km/h to 15km/h more than the allowed speed limit on the highway, and we get fined R250 (hypothetically).
If we have a habit of leaving for work late every morning, one could argue that we would most likely speed at least once a week, that is R1,000 instead of R276 a month that one, as a speeding motorist, would have to give to the government. Gauteng has roughly 4.5-million registered vehicles. That is a lot of R250, per day, per week, per month!
We, as citizens, totally agree that our roads need to be maintained and improved with time for obvious reasons such as safety and the like, and we are not against that in any way. In fact, we welcome it.
All we are suggesting is that there must be a better way of getting revenue for it and this is merely one such suggestion. So come on Mbalula, think about this.
There are definitely other options to keeping the gantries and getting the money while at the same time enforcing the law.
Hammond is Sowetan pictures editor