Austrian electronic toll collection company, ETC, has questioned the validity of Premier Makhura’s urban tolling claims during his State of the Province Address earlier this week.
Makhura again called for e-tolls to be scrapped, a script that the ruling party the ANC has used for several years now, but with little action.
“There is no question anymore, urban tolling increases the cost of living and is not unsustainable. Government teams are hard at work to find solutions and President [Cyril] Ramaphosa has assured me that e-tolls are receiving his urgent attention,” Makhura said.
“There is clear recognition that urban tolling increases the cost of living and is therefore unsustainable,” Makhura said.
According to the ETC, however, Makhura’s statement appeared to be more opinion than fact, as no mention was made of how this conclusion was reached, it said.
“It is far more likely that the markedly increased price of petrol, damage caused to vehicles by poor roads, and decreased productivity from traffic congestion are to blame for the rise in the cost of living.
“With Gautengers spending an average of between 14 – 18 workdays a year in traffic (2018 INRIX Global Survey), the cost of not having new roads, not constructing new roads far outpaces the 25 cents of cost for every R100 earned by road users. Keeping in mind that the poor via public transport are exempt from toll.”
The ETC said that registered e-toll users pay no more than R277 per month to use the roads in the province, regardless of how often they make use of them.
ETC questioned claims by Makhura that “it is loud and clear for all to see that e-tolls have not worked”.
“On the contrary,” it said, “the world-class e-tolling system has worked and continues to work on a daily basis as it manages the busiest stretch of highway in Southern Africa”.
The group said that the high rate of non-compliance is primarily a backlash against the government for adding more taxes while corruption was allowed to flourish, and not against the e-tolling system itself. “The fact is, tolling works in South Africa and around the world and is an accepted, effective practice for funding road infrastructure.”
“Government should come to grips with the real reasons behind non-compliance, instead of being the worker who forever blames his tools,” ETC said.
Makhura stated he would “engage president Ramaphosa in order to find a new and more equitable funding model to support the continued expansion of Gauteng’s road network and public transport system.”
ETC said it wants to be part of the engagement process with president Ramaphosa.
“We would love to give the honourable premier some ideas. Perhaps he could be part of the regular Transport Forum working groups to engage with transport experts on the matter,” it said.