No to e-tolls

Some government workers were against the e-tolling system, a public hearing into the tolls heard on Monday.

Mbuyisa Manana, a government employee, said as a state worker, he should have been at the forefront, encouraging people to pay tolls but he was not.

“There’s electricity for the roads but not the people living in shacks next to the highway,” he said, referring to the blue lights that illuminated the e-toll gantries.

He proposed that there should be a flat rate of R120 paid yearly for the tolls.

He said it was unfair that his “own government” wanted to force him to be a criminal as, despite him and his wife earning a joint income of R80,000 a month, they were not prepared to pay for the tolls.

The public hearings, which were aimed at analysing the socio-economic impact of the tolls, were held at the Orlando Community Hall in Soweto.

Several suggestions came out of the talks.

Some people suggested that the tolls should rather be used to catch people who were speeding.

Others said that they be used to trace hijacked vehicles, while some suggested that they simply be scrapped.

None of the participants showed any support for the e-tolling system.

One man said he was unemployed and could not afford to pay the tolls.

He claimed the R20 billion bill of the SA National Roads Agency Limited was not the problem of the people.

“That R20 billion you’re owing is not our baby to nurse,” he said, referring to government.

“It’s yours… And you were warned,” he said.

Another man said he was not prepared to pay for what he did not apply for, while another pointed out that unlike a cellphone contract, e-tolls were a lifelong commitment which he was not willing to commit to.

Phumlani Mngomezulu, an owner of a small business, said he was rather concerned that while Premier David Makhura had established this panel to discuss the tolls, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters was not getting involved.

“Government isn’t interested,” he said.

He also questioned why Sanral wasn’t involved in the talks.

A woman who identified herself as Eden lashed out at the panel.

“Because things aren’t working your way, you’re calling us now,” she said.

The meeting was chaired by Professor Muxe Nkondo, who had been appointed by Makhura.

The panel was expected to submit its findings and recommendations to Makhura by November.

He would apply his mind on what to do with the report.

The talks come amid the mass rejection of the tolls with some political parties calling for them to be scrapped.

The Soweto round of talks ended with just few people still present.

The panel encouraged affected parties to continue making their submissions until October.

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No to e-tolls