Addressing supporters outside the provincial legislature on Thursday (5 December), Maimane said: “The public was never asked about e-tolls. In fact, only 28 people were heard, in a province of 12.3 million people.”
Business Day recently reported how the North Gauteng High Court heard how Sanral failed to publish a notice of intent to toll certain sections of the Gauteng freeway network.
The act requires all affected parties be given a chance to comment before a decision over tolling is made.
Maritz argued that Sanral only published a notice of intent to toll in the government gazette and in five newspapers. The response, as a result, was “extremely limited”.
According to Business Day, he also said the act required Sanral to get comment from the premier of the province, which did not happen.
Both Sanral and the Department of Transport have insisted that adequate consultation was done.
“The fact is that we can maintain and build every road we need from the fuel levy we already have in place.”
“Yes democrats, we have already paid for the freeway improvements, through the fuel levy since 1998,” Maimane said.
The DA lead for Gauteng said that e-tolls would halt job creation. “E-tolls will take jobs away. Etolls will halt job creation. And Etolls will shut small businesses down.”
He also warned that Sanral would be selective in who they choose to prosecute, “they will prosecute high-profile people in every court they can,” he said.
e-tolls a week in review:
The controversial Gauteng e-toll system went live on 3 December; but, according to Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage, this merely signals the beginning of the fight against e-tolls.
Shortly before e-tolls went live, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters criticised those who opposed e-tolling and said it was time they moved on.
Sanral chairperson Tembakazi Mnyaka said that motorists will be surprised at how little their pocket has been affected by e-tolls, and will ultimately wonder what the fuss and noise was all about.
Despite these comments, many Gauteng motorists are openly expressing their unhappiness with e-tolls, and have vowed to not purchase e-tags.
Another blow against e-tolls came from Cosatu-affiliated unions in the Post Office and Gauteng metro police, who have vowed to directly and indirectly help motorists against e-tolling.
“They must work extremely slow[ly] when dealing with those Sanral letters. If they have to sort out 100 a day, they should make it one a day,” CWU Gauteng secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said.
Outa’s Duvenhage reiterated these views in a column on The Daily Maverick, saying that e-toll defiance hasn’t failed – it’s barely started.
“So tolling has started and yes, a few hundred thousand citizens have tagged up, many forced to do so under ‘corporate fleet’ instructions. This merely drags the campaign of defiance on for several months longer, that’s all,” said Duvenhage.
“The active citizens who didn’t [get e-tags] will remain resilient and sufficient in numbers to get the job done. They will proudly look back one day and say – “I remained untagged and was part of defiance campaign that stopped government’s irrational and unjust e-toll plan.”
“It’s not a matter of if, but when the e-toll system in Gauteng will be scrapped,” said Duvenhage.
Alternative road safety fears
The DA also expressed concern that the roads being used by Gauteng motorists as alternatives to avoid e-tolls may become unsafe because of the increased traffic burden on them.
The DA noted that the advent of e-tolls led the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport to publish a list of so-called ‘alternate’ routes for those who cannot afford the tolls.
However, the political party stressed that “these alternative roads do not offer viable alternative routes to the highways”.
“The lack of safe, reliable and affordable public transport alternatives should have been addressed prior to the concept of e-tolls to provide commuters with real alternatives,” said Neil Campbell, DA Gauteng spokesperson on Roads and Transport.
“One of the roads on this list of alternatives is Witkoppen Road which already carries a huge volume of traffic and has a collapsing bridge on a section of the road which severely narrows the already inadequate width.”
The DA said that several prominent engineers had expressed serious concerns regarding motorists’ safety and the weakened bridge’s ability to withstand the run-off of the frequent Highveld thunderstorms.
“When I inquired as to the reasons for the delay, I was told it would be going out to tender ‘soon’,” Campbell said.
“I hope no lives are lost before this process is complete as the blame for any loss of life will then rest squarely on the shoulders of Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Vadi,” the DA representative said.
On top of it all, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has also continued its grind against the ANC over e-tolls.
EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told SABC news: “We think that our people must be able to realise the importance of the 2014 elections.”
“No party in the country gained so much arrogance that it is no longer able to hear the will of the people, this e-tolling system shows the arrogance of the ruling party and the government of the day.”
The ANC has said the system is a necessary part of government’s development programme.
Reported in conjunction with MyBroadband