Ndebele calls for cooperation ahead of e-toll

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pretoria - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has encouraged motorists in Gauteng to cooperate ahead of the implementation of the freeway e-toll system, which goes live on 30 April.

"We would like to thank the people of Gauteng for their cooperation as we move towards the implementation of this critical project," Ndebele said, delivering his department's Budget Vote in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday.

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) has said that the system would still kick off on 30 April, despite the opposition from motorist, business, unions and a court challenge currently underway.

Ndebele noted that the implementation of the project was postponed to allow for further consultation and the subsequent intervention of R5.7 billion by the National Treasury to help SANRAL reduce its R20-billion debt incurred as a result of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

Both SANRAL and the government have emphasised that the benefits associated with the GFIP were substantial and include improved traffic flow, improved incident management and services. Improved accessibility in Gauteng, with reduced travel times, would boost the South African economy.

In August last year, Cabinet approved a decision to exempt the public transport sector - including taxis and buses - from paying e-tolls.

On Wednesday, Ndebele said government recognised that public transport users were among the lowest earning South Africans. "I wish to take this opportunity to re-emphasize that no public transport vehicle will be expected to pay for the e-tolling tariffs."

The GFIP is one of SANRAL's largest projects to date. It comprises different phases to upgrade and implement new freeway networks. The e-road is the country's first multi-lane free-flow toll system using electronic toll covering 185 kilometres of road; the network now has wider freeways, with up to six lanes in each direction.

Phase 1, which comprises the upgrading of 185km of the most congested freeways in Gauteng, is nearing completion. Thirty-four interchanges have been and are still being significantly upgraded, including infamous interchanges such as Allandale, Rivonia, William Nicol, Gilloolys and Elands.

More than 20 000 jobs have been created for South Africans through the GFIP. Through enhanced traffic flow and accessibility, it is projected that the project will contribute to economic growth to the tune of R15 billion.