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Gauteng
Feb 22 2012 5:14PM
 
Budget: R5.8bn boost for Gauteng tolls
Relief for motorists who will foot the bil. Photo: Gallo Images
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Phuti Mosomane

Gauteng's e-toll project will receive a total of R5.8 billion from the national government's burse.

This was announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan as he delivered his 2012 budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday.

"The allocation is to allow a steeper discount for regular road users" said Gordhan.

An earlier sign that the project had received attention for a review was when President Jacob Zuma assured guests at the New Age business briefing earlier this month, held a day after his State of the Nation Address in Parliament, that government would find a 'balance' to reduce effects of the tolls on the poor.

According to the Gordhan, the total debt associated with the project is R20 billion. The appropriation of the R5.8 billion should help reduce the debt to be repaid through the project.

The minister made an expected note that the topic of the e-tolling system was bound to receive a lot of reaction.

"Improved maintenance of regional and provincial roads is made possible by the additional revenue that our toll roads generate", explained Gordhan.
 
Roelof Botha, an economic researcher from the Gordon Institute of Business Science, noted on Tuesday that although the proposed Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) would result in unmitigated success and tangible benefits for South Africa, the project will also make the rich poorer, not the poor poorer,"

The Democratic Alliance's reaction to Botha's statements was that the project "would impact on every resident in Gauteng" and not only the rich.

Other analysts also believe the toll project will increase SA's international credit ratings and prevent further fuel levy increases.

Anti-toll petitions were carried out with thousands of signatures tabled in a hearing organised by the Gauteng’s department of roads and transport.

In January, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) announced that the start of the e-toll system will be delayed.

The system has not been without its fair share of controversy. The first major delay in implementing it was in February 1. It would have seen motorists paying 40c per kilometre, with higher amounts levied on medium (R1) and longer vehicles (R2), in the revised toll fees announced by Sanral, following a public outcry over the initial fees. The initial proposal would have seen light motor vehicles paying 66c per kilometre.

At the time of announcing the delay, the Sanral board was said to be "exploring different modalities" and was to "present its findings to the minister (of transport).”

When the Gauteng tolling outcry was at its highest late last year, Ndebele said it was a “done deal” and motorists would have to pay to use Gauteng’s freeways regularly.

Gordhan's announcement serves to close the debate on whether Gauteng will be the first province to roll out a tolling system.  This despite completely eradicated as unions like the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union and civil society organisations has called for.

phutim@thenewage.co.za

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