The money collected from e-tolls was essential in upgrading Johannesburg’s transport infrastructure, Gauteng premier David Makhura said on Thursday.
“The financing of that infrastructure is important,” he told Fin24. “Contributions by residents of our province is important, but we have always said that issues of affordability … [should be addressed so consumers] are not over burdened with debt.
“That’s why we’ve been looking at the issue of e-tolls to reduce the burden and make it more affordable for people to be able to pay.”
Makhura said that the expansion of public transport infrastructure was critical to his vision for Gauteng to be the leading city of choice in Africa.
“We need good roads, we need an efficient public transport system, our rapid bus system must work [and the] Gautrain expansion is … part of the plan,” he said.
“Building new highways is also part of the plan.”
Meanwhile, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said in a statement this week that it noted with alarm “the apparently worsening state of the urban public transport systems in Gauteng”.
Outa said despite the poor safety issues, the sheer lack of reliable public transport to cater for the flexible needs of the country’s workforce, means that vehicles and roads will remain by far, the most viable option to commuters for years to come.
“The authorities now need to act with significant plans and haste to address this growing problem.”
On e-tolls, Outa said Sanral assured the public that alternative, safe, reliable and affordable public transport systems would be in place when e-tolling commenced, “yet all evidence to date contradicts that assurance”.
Outa said South Africa’s fragile economy cannot afford the productivity losses and disruption in the workplace due to the absence of safe, affordable and reliable transport systems.
“The time has come for all those with influence and responsibility to now get around the table and face the facts. Things are bad, but not irretrievable, so long as we can start working together for the greater good of all and government starts to pay attention to and embrace their critics,” said Outa.