Howard Dembovsky, chairman of the Justice Project South Africa (JPSA), says he does not expect e-tolls to be summarily scrapped at the end of the current hearing process.
It follows comments from transport minister Dipuo Peters, who reportedly said that the advisory panel on e-tolls does not have power over national government.
Peters said that the national government would not change its position on the controversial e-tolling system, despite the findings of the advisory panel, expected in November.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura set up a 15-member advisory panel in July to assess the socioeconomic effects of the controversial system. The panel has heard from a number of organisations including the JPSA, and is due to publish a report on its finding in November.
“We also do not expect to get roads infrastructure ‘for free’ as has been suggested by the pro-e-tolling lobby and their propagandists,” Dembovsky said in a statement on Wednesday (17 September).
“What we do however expect is that this matter will finally be put to a referendum asking motorists how they would prefer to pay for roads infrastructure development, thus providing all those who are expected to pay the opportunity to democratically determine their future (and present) financial obligations,” he said.
JPSA is calling on citizens to have their say on e-tolls at the public meetings at the following venues:
The dates and venues of the public meetings still to be held are:
- 17 September from 17h00 to 20h00 at Falala Community Hall
- 19 September from 17h00 to 20h00 at Tshwane Metro Police Department Head Quarters Main Hall
- 20 September from 09h00 to 12h00 at Cosmo City High School, Central African Republic Road
- 22 September from 17h00 to 20h00 at the banquet hall at council chambers in Germiston
- 23 September from 09h00 to 12h00 at Brakpan Indoor Center in Brakpan
- 23 September from 15h00 to 17h00 at Rabasotho Hall in Tembisa
- 25 September from 09h00 to 12h00 at Ratanda MPCC
- 25 September from 13h00 to 16h00 at Meyerton Hall
- 25 September from 17h00 to 20h00 at Vereeniging City Hall
- 26 September from 09h00 to 12h00 at the Civic Centre, Carltonville
- 26 September from 15h00 to 18h00 at Centenary Hall, Mogale City
“The purpose of the Gauteng e-tolls review panel is neither to promote nor to knock e-tolling as a method of building roads infrastructure and the formally appointed panel members thereon have been tasked with assessing the socioeconomic impact of e-tolling in an unbiased fashion,” JPSA said.
“They are receiving inputs from anyone and any organisation with a material interest in either promoting or opposing this model.”
The public hearings have been set up for the panel to hear from ordinary people and representatives of groups with a common interest, JPSA said, stressing that it was not a time for political parties and their contingents and supporters to make political speeches.
“No-one can say for sure whether the Gauteng e-tolls review panel is or is not a waste of time and effort, and indeed, public money, especially in light of the conflicting stances that have been taken and expressed by Sanral and the Minister of Transport and the Gauteng Provincial Government.”
“We do not believe that it would be helpful to anyone to automatically assume that the Gauteng e-tolls review panel is nothing more than another public relations exercise,” Dembovsky said.
“Instead, such judgments should be reserved until the entire process has run its course and an outcome has been attained.”