Sanral’s e-toll submission welcomed

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) on Monday welcomed Sanral’s decision to make a submission to the Gauteng e-tolls review panel.

“While very late in the panel’s process, the about turn is most welcome and we look forward to hearing Sanral’s response to the numerous questions and concerns that have emerged,” Outa spokesman John Clarke said in a statement.

Business Day newspaper reported on Monday that the SA National Roads Agency Limited as well as the department of transport would make representations to the panel in November.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters told the newspaper that the department and Sanral would face the panel to “clear the distortions” about the electronic tolling of Gauteng highways.

The newspaper reported that Peters had previously said the panel did not have power over the national government.

Clarke said he hoped that the agency’s decision to face the panel meant that it would be more willing to be more “professional, transparent and engaging” with the public about e-tolls in the future.

“We hope that besides engaging with the panel, Sanral will now also begin to participate in live panel discussions and radio talk shows to answer their critics and the public, by explaining themselves on the many matters and questions which they constantly ignore,” he said.

“Outa does not want to see the demise of this once-respected [state-owned enterprise], but honest truth must precede genuine reconciliation and forgiveness from the public.”

The alliance also wanted the review panel to provide clarity as to why the department, the Sanral board and the parliamentary portfolio committee had not taken criticism of e-tolls seriously.

“As with any organisation, pressure will mount on all stakeholders, both internal and external, when the organisational leadership fails to be inclusive or lacks the necessary transparency required through open debate on such important matters,” said Clarke.

Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said in a statement that while Sanral might try to influence the panel’s decision about e-tolls, the system had “grossly failed to achieve its objectives as an efficient funding mechanism”, almost a year after it was implemented.

“This is the reality which the authorities need to critically interrogate and identify the real issues that have caused its failure,” said Duvenage.

“Sanral’s critics most certainly cannot be blamed for its failure.”

In July, Gauteng premier David Makhura commissioned the review panel, which has been tasked with assessing the socio-economic impact of e-tolls.

Since then, motorists and organisations have made submissions to the panel.

Political parties, including the Democratic Alliance, the Economic Freedom Fighters and Inkatha Freedom Party, among others, also criticised the e-toll system during panel discussions.

Chairman of the African National Congress in Gauteng, Paul Mashatile, informed the panel that urban tolling would “kill the economy” and that the current system needed to be reviewed.

However, he encouraged users to continue to pay their e-tolls accounts during the review process.

The panel may decide to have round table meetings with experts before analysing all the submissions and evidence it had collected.

It is due to present its findings to Makhura at the end of November.

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Sanral’s e-toll submission welcomed