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ANC stands firm on tolling

The ANC has reaffirmed its position on e-tolls

A protester holds up a placard against e-tolling.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng African National Congress (ANC) said on Tuesday it had not changed its position on e-tolling, despite its plan to suggest a short-term fuel levy at the party's policy conference this week.

The controversial project was halted by the Gauteng North High Court in April, but government is now engaged in a Constitutional Court battle to overturn this.

An inter-ministerial committee chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is engaging with various organisations.

The two mechanisms for funding infrastructure upgrades on Gauteng's roads has been at the heart of the e-tolling dispute.

While government stands firmly behind a user-pays principle, the organisations opposing e-tolling are calling for an additional fuel levy.

The Gauteng ANC seems to have warmed up to the idea of a fuel levy, but said this would be a short-term solution to the cash-flow crisis caused by the interdict.

The party's Nkenke Kekana said, "Let's also find alternative ways of addressing the financial burden in the short-term.

"That is why, we are suggesting other things, perhaps a fuel levy."

He said they supported the ongoing discussions and believed upgrades to public transport was encouraging.

In May, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made the unusual appeal to the Constitutional Court in a bid to set aside the court order halting the e-tolling project.

He was concerned about the tolling project's negative impact on the country's economy as government's credit rating would be severely affected if it cannot repay the loans taken out to fund the system.

It took a R20 billion loan in 2007 to improve Gauteng roads.

While many organisations pushed for the system to be scrapped entirely, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has said tolling will eventually go ahead despite resistance from the public.

If implemented, motorists will pay up to 35 cents/km to travel on some of Gauteng's freeways.

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