Gauteng Toll Road Tensions - Implementation Soon

Cape Town - Cabinet has issued a stern warning that the law will take its course against those planning to disrupt the implementation of the tolling system on Gauteng freeways.

"This is a legal matter and Cabinet will not tolerate any disobedience to the law. It must be clear that if anyone is not obeying the law, then the law will take its course... We are marching forward and people must not have any illusions that this will go away, the tolls are a reality," Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said today.

He said Cabinet had approved the tolling with effect from 30 April, with the tolling fees scheduled to be gazetted next week.

The tolling fees are being introduced to repay the R20 billion the South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) borrowed to fund the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

Several bodies opposed to the move have threatened to take government to court over the tolls, with trade union federation Cosatu and the Democratic Alliance both rejecting government's plans to implement tolling fees on Gauteng's freeways.

Cosatu has announced that it will embark on two mass protests in March and April, with its General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi saying the union would even ask its members not to purchase the e-tags.

This is despite attempts this week by government to lighten the load on commuters by granting Sanral a once-off payment of R5.75-billion to fund the project.

In his Budget Speech on Wednesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the contribution by government would ensure that tariffs were reduced by up to half the price for e-tag holders.

The reduced fees will see cars with e-tags pay 30c per km, motorcycles charged 20c per km, while non-articulated trucks pay 75c per km and articulated trucks will be charged R1.51 per km.

There will also be a frequent-user cap of R550 a month for light vehicles and motorcyles, as well as a "time-of-day" saving of 20% for heavy vehicles. Drivers of motorcycles will pay 20c per kilometre and non-articulated and articulated trucks would pay 75c and R1.51 per kilometre respectively.

To help ease congestion, heavy vehicles will qualify for a 20 percent discount if they use the roads during off-peak times in the day. Taxis and other public transport operators will be exempt from toll fees.

Also, the upgrading of the provincial roads which link the metropolitan municipalities such as the R55 and R101 will be prioritised to allow motorists to use alternative routes.

Manyi said Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele is to table the amendments into law in parliament to allow for enforcement in the implementation of the toll roads.

- BuaNews