Speech by Hon. B.W. Dhlamini
IFP Gauteng MPL
Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Honourable Madam Speaker
Honourable Madam Deputy Speaker
Members of the Gauteng Executive Council
Members of the Media
The Citizens of Gauteng
Madam Speaker, The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has and remains firm on its rejection of the e-tolling system in Gauteng’s freeways. From the beginning, we warned that this system would add a needless and disproportionate taxation expense to the already financially strained citizens and businesses in the province. Instead of adding value, it diminishes the worth of our economy and demoralises our motorists who are singled out to pay for social infrastructure which sustains, not just this province but the whole country and its neighbours.
It is unfortunate that at a time when our economy and society has taken a thrashing from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which dampened economic activity and shed hundreds of thousands of jobs, we still must contend with the issue of whether to scrap the e-tolls or not. It is as though the citizens of this province signed up for the e-tolling system in the first place, forgetting that the citizens of Gauteng were barely consulted over the system and them bearing the costs of it.
We also recall that ever since this motion (of e-tolls) came before this House for debate, it has always been opposed with some alternative funding proposals being submitted which suggested the use of the fuel levy, amongst others. These alternative proposals were being offered to make the payment of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) more equitable and just and to prevent passing the buck on to Gauteng motorists alone. However, those proposals have been ignored much like the corruption which took place in the process of construction tenders for e-tolls and associated road upgrades.
The people of Gauteng’s opposition towards paying for the e-tolling system is palpable. This is evidenced by the fact that the system administrator, South African National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL), itself admits that less than 20 percent of Gauteng’s motorists are compliant with the payment of e-tolls. Last year SANRAL recorded a R14 billion revenue loss, and an estimated R9.8 billion of that was due to non-payment of e-tolls, meaning that Gauteng motorists are liable. Unfortunately, it is money that people cannot pay not because they don’t want to, but simply because sebephefumula ngenxeba (breathing through the wound) and cannot afford any extra taxes on their little to non-existent disposable incomes. Not after the paycuts and the job’s bloodbath caused by COVID-19, and certainly not when Gauteng’s motorists are already paying the bulk of the country’s tolled road revenues. Nithi bayithathe kuphi imali abantu bengasebenzi?
Honourable Speaker, we cannot allow for Gauteng citizens to take the fall for the consistent erroneous and callous decisions of the ANC-led government. As the IFP we believe that e-tolling was and remains an irrational and unfeasible system. That is why it has failed in countries like Portugal. In 2017, the Constitutional Court gave damning judgements against the implementation of planned e-tolls in the City of Cape Town precisely because of the system’s unfairness and inequitable distribution. Nathi e-Gauteng asiwadingi ama-e-tolls!
The people of this province are tired of the series of promises for decisive action around the e-toll system. The dithering must stop. For some time now, the promise of a cabinet decision on the matter has been pending. I hope by the end of this month that decision will have been taken, as promised by the Minister of Transport. But as we wait, allow me to give a word of caution for the government not to take the people of Gauteng for granted.
The e-toll system, in its current form, simply needs to be scraped for that is the only rational and compassionate thing to do. I thank you.
Bonginkosi Dhlamini, MPL
Provincial Chairperson of the IFP Gauteng
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