26 October 2012
Following a recommendation of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), led by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday 24 October 2012, decided that the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) should proceed with the implementation of the e-tolling system.
Today, the Department of Transport Gazetted the toll tariffs and regulations for public comment that will apply to users of the toll road network in Gauteng. This marks the beginning of a 30-day period for public comment. Government will, at the end of 30 days, having considered the views of the public, publish final tariffs.
Stakeholders have made an impact
The Inter-Ministerial Committee has since May this year engaged in a series of stakeholder consultations involving organised labour, business, the commercial transport sector, organisations representing people with disabilities and the religious community.
In the consultations there was agreement by all parties that the tolled roads have improved, and travelling times have been reduced.
Most of the stakeholders consulted agreed on the user pay principle and further, that the e-toll system should be part of a mix of mechanisms to be employed to address the problem of congestion, as well as to raise funding for the construction and maintenance of freeways.
Stakeholders raised concerns about the high operational costs for the e-toll system. Government shared this concern and committed that everything possible would be done to reduce these costs and limit the financial burden on the consumers.
Following the consultations, were have lowered tariffs, reduced caps in all categories, offered discounts on tagged vehicles and during peak hours and exemptions on public transport.
User pays goes with user behaviour
The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project is being delivered within a broader context of improvements to integrated public transport and improvements to non-toll alternative routes.
Some stakeholders advocated the use of the fuel levy as an alternative tolling system.
An increase in the fuel levy means that every car owner in the country would pay even if they don’t travel on these roads.
This would ultimately have a direct impact on the cost of transportation of goods and services throughout the country and lead to inflationary pressures. In South Africa, taxes generated through the fuel levy are not sufficient to address infrastructure requirements.
More efficient freeways mean that people and goods will move more efficiently around the province and between Gauteng and other parts of the country and continent.
This means people will get to work on time and goods will reach markets on time. This creates certainty and comfort for employees and employers alike, and therefore benefits domestic and international investment in our economy. Better roads also save time and maintenance on vehicles.
Business expenses associated with transporting goods have always been tax-deductible and this will remain the case for those using the newly improved freeways in Gauteng.
Protecting the poor
An important area of consensus between government and stakeholders has been the protection of the poor in our society. Registered public transport operators and users will not pay a cent. This means that the poor will be exempted.
Capping costs, inducing discounts
Registering for an e-tag account will provide users with the lowest possible toll fees. Government has proposed that toll fees for e-tag users be capped at R550 a month for light vehicles. Monthly toll caps for e-tag registered heavy vehicle users are also introduced.
We believe as government that the consultation processes we have followed and that the toll tariffs and regulations that were gazetted today for comment set the scene for compliance.
We believe these to be fair and reasonable terms and tariffs that offer convenience, safety and value for money for those using the improved freeways in Gauteng. We noted with appreciation the speed with which thousands of road users acquired e-tags several months ago before the Gauteng North High Court intervened in a way which has since been set aside by the Constitutional Court.
The spirit of this early compliance is a spirit we would like to encourage.
It is our conviction that the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project is an important contributor to keeping South Africa's economic hub moving. The country's first multi-lane free-flow toll system using Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) provides road users with a smoother and safer journey.
Acting Cabinet Spokesperson
Cell: 083 501 0139