'Public process of e-toll inadequate'

Salga says the public process around urban tolling has not been up to standard.

A Gauteng resident contributes his ideas at the e-toll hearings in Kempton Park on 13 November, 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The South African Local Government Association (Salga) said on Tuesday the public consultation process around urban tolling has been woefully inadequate.

It cited the example of Gauteng, where e-tolling is expected to be rolled out.

Salga officials made a submission to the Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Transport on Tuesday.

It called for the draft law dealing with tolling to be amended so as to empower the public when consultations are held.

Salga's Mthobeli Kolisa added that urban tolling will force motorists onto other roads, which could compound traffic congestion.

"Once there is more traffic on those local roads, municipalities will have to spend more on traffic management. This means we won't have a situation where there is congestion on those roads that makes it impossible for other users."

Committee Chair Ruth Bhengu agrees and said some municipalities will be over-burdened with the upkeep of these roads.

"Salga is talking about the consultation and mitigating factors of the impact of the diversion of transport, volumes of traffic that have a negative impact on the infrastructure that they are responsible for."

Congress of South African Trade Unions also made a submission.

The trade union federation's Jane Barret said the need for tolling reveals government's inability to provide quality public transport.

"We've made almost no progress. In the last 12 years, not one new subsidised bus route has been introduced, apart from the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT)."

Salga wants an additional clause to the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, making it obligatory in the future for the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to carry out impact studies of tolling, before it is implemented in Gauteng.

Sanral has reported that 500,000 e-tags have been sold to motorists and fleet vehicles.

A full North Gauteng High Court review of the controversial system is due to be heard on 26 November.

Revenue from the system is due to pay of a multibillion rand debt Sanral incurred in 2007.