National fuel levy better than e-tolls: Nactu

The national fuel levy offered a better source of revenue for the improvement and maintenance of Gauteng’s freeways, the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) said on Wednesday.

“If you look at the past few years… the fuel levy has contributed over R40 billion to the national budget,” Nactu project manager Thulani Khumalo told the advisory panel on the socio-economic impact of e-tolls in Midrand.

“Already people who are using Gauteng’s roads, they are benefiting… the spread of that risk from Gauteng is an opportunity that can be looked into.

“Maybe we can look at a 1c increase in the fuel levy,” Khumalo said.

This was in the context of Nactu’s belief that tolling would become a “national phenomenon”, as the SA National Roads Agency Limited sought to expand e-tolls to the Western Cape.

“Our view is that this isn’t going to end in Gauteng and will go to other provinces,” Khumalo said.

While Nactu realised the importance of infrastructure development in growing the economy, and tolling on national roads as already established, the introduction of urban tolling was compounding economic woes.

“This [e-tolls] is happening in an environment where people are finding it difficult to find jobs, and keep their jobs.”

Nactu suggested the National Economic Development and Labour Council of SA be used as a forum where government, business, and labour could discuss e-tolling and alternative funding mechanisms.

The panel would focus on the implications and perceptions of financing the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and e-tolls.

On Monday, the Gauteng provincial government announced the panel would embark on a month-long consultation process, starting on Wednesday, with organisations and individuals.

Organisations were invited to make submissions on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the GFIP and e-tolls, and how e-tolling’s costs and benefits were distributed across society and the economy.

The panel was expected to report to premier David Makhura at the end of November.

Labour would be heard on Wednesday, business on Thursday and Friday, and civil society from September 1 to 3.

Information and knowledge institutions would be heard on September 4, and transport organisations from September 4.

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National fuel levy better than e-tolls: Nactu