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Busa, govt start e-toll talks

Busa and government on Friday started discussing the contested Gauteng e-tolls.

Tolls sign. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - A meeting between Business Unity SA (Busa) and an inter-ministerial committee on e-tolling kicked off in Sandton on Friday.

Busa Vice President Brenda Madumise opened the discussion and emphasised the importance of building better trust between government and business.

"We need to be frank and open up our discussion with mutual consent. If there are agreements, let them be explained and discussed here. We must be willing to interrogate our concerns candidly."

Earlier, Busa indicated that it does not agree with the "user-pays principle".

It is supporting an additional fuel levy to cover the costs of the controversial project.

Committee chairperson Kgalema Motlanthe said the Gauteng e-tolls will alleviate the crippling congestion on the roads.

Motlanthe said Gauteng is at the heart of South Africa's economy and delays on the roads have far-reaching consequences.

"Congestion has a negative impact on the economy as a whole, because it slows down movement of people and goods."

Journalists were only allowed to hear opening statements before they were asked to leave.

In April, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria halted e-tolling in order for a full review to be held.

Government has now taken the matter to the Constitutional Court where an appeal hearing is scheduled to take place in mid-August.

The state is also considering a new bill to bail out the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) while the legal battle continues.

Similar sessions are due to take place in coming weeks.