By accepting the e-tolling system, government has missed an opportunity to look at more cost-effective methods of financing the country’s roads, AfriForum said on Wednesday.
“Even though the measures for reducing the toll fees may bring some relief for overburdened taxpayers, it is senseless to retain an expensive recovery method like toll fees which coincides with unnecessary overhead expenses,” AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel said in a statement.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his budget speech that electronic tolling fees on light motor vehicles had been reduced from 66 cents/km to 30 cents.
This was due to a special R5.8 billion appropriation included in the 2011/12 budget to ease the toll burden.
“The specific allocation of fuel levies to finance the improvement of the country’s infrastructure would have protected road users from having to keep on paying for the unnecessary administrative expenses that occur when toll tariffs are imposed,” Kriel said.
“The decision to exempt taxis from toll fees while motorists have to pay, reduces ordinary motorists to the milk cows of the new tolling system.”
Democratic Alliance MP Jack Bloom said he welcomed the R5.8bn appropriation, but warned it would not help the public to accept the system.
“This actually makes the case against the e-toll collection system even stronger, as it will cost about R1bn a year to collect a smaller amount,” he said.
“It is also administratively complex and difficult to enforce. Many motorists will simply refuse to pay.”
He said the party feared the toll reduction was temporary, and that it could be raised once the system was operational.
“The DA will continue to oppose the tolls, including legal action to stop its implementation,” Bloom said.