Great News Folks! The proposed and almost-forced-without-public-approval Gauteng E-Tolling System is put on hold for now. Tolling was supposed to commence yesterday, but thank goodness that sanity has prevailed. The High Court in Pretoria granted an urgent interdict to halt the contentious R20 billion e-toll project in Gauteng on Saturday. “People are held captive by the toll roads” said Judge Bill Prinsloo, delivering judgment on an application by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA). “I make the following order… the first respondent (SA National Roads Agency) is interdicted and restrained from levying and collecting tolls,” said the judge, to applause in the public gallery.
Reaction to this was huge on the social networking website Twitter. Gautengers were praising Judge Prinsloo and OUTA on Twitter for their efforts. Saturday’s proceedings were also live tweeted by @ewnreporter and other Twitter accounts too.
Yesterday, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) said there were four other ways the government could settle the R20 billion debt incurred by improving Gauteng’s highways. OUTA listed four payment options according to its calculations, one of which was a fuel levy. It said if the levy was hiked by 7 or 8c, around R1.7 billion could be collected to pay for the infrastructure over 20 years, and it would not have administrative costs attached to it.
The second option was that the national fiscus be used to pay for the infrastructure. The third option was long distance toll levies, where the person using the vehicle would pay, and not only the owner. The fourth option was licence fees, which had already been paid, and could be utilised for the improvement of municipal roads.
As my good friend @lexamantis (who is a lawyer by profession) pointed out to me over the weekend, some of other way South Africans have to pay for these upgrades, the R20 Billion debt is there, its not going away. And of course, its not like the fuel price is going down anytime soon, it’s up by another 28c per litre from midnight on Wednesday. This is only the beginning of a whole legal saga if you ask me. I’m pretty sure that this whole E-toll debacle will be making headlines in the next 6 months or so, mark my words.
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