COSATU condemns e-tolling bill

Toll road legislation was rushed through the National Assembly without an opportunity for public debate, Cosatu said on Wednesday.

“This bill … is a matter of great public concern, and there should have been proper parliamentary hearings into the matter,” Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.

“We demand that the National Council of Provinces rectifies this by holding public hearings and does not rubber-stamp the legislation.”

The Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill legalises the e-tolling of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

It was approved in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Transport Minister Ben Martins said the bill was essential to enable “the appropriate implementation of the e-tolling system”.

The measures were required for the provision of public transport and other projects in Gauteng, he said. He rejected calls for e-tolling to be scrapped, saying the non-collection of tolls might impact negatively on the ability of the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to raise capital for infrastructure development projects.

Inability to collect revenue would also damage the credit reputation of Sanral among investors, and could negatively affect Sanral’s and the government’s international ratings, Martins said.

Most opposition parties strongly opposed the bill. It now goes to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

Craven said Cosatu would continue to fight against e-tolling, as it was a burden on the poor.

“The extra cost will also come just after this week’s big fuel price increase, just before Eskom‘s first eight percent tariff increase… and the 15 percent rise in the fuel levy, to R2.13, on 3 April, announced in the Budget,” he said.

“Large numbers of private vehicle users simply do not have a single extra rand to spare.”

The trade federation would continue its mass action against e-tolls, which had already seen marches and drive-slow protests on Gauteng’s highways.

Craven urged motorists not to register with the Sanral, not to buy e-tags and to make the system of collection unworkable.

An application by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) to scrap e-tolling was dismissed in December by the High Court in Pretoria.

The court granted Outa leave, on January 25, to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

A date for the appeals court hearing had yet to be set.

Craven said Cosatu would support Outa’s appeal.

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COSATU condemns e-tolling bill