'Rushing to launch e-tolling could backfire'

A DA MP says switching on gantries without the necessary legislation will make fee collection difficult.

The DA's Ian Ollis says switching on e-toll gantries without the necessary legislation will make the collection of fees difficult for Sanral and government. Picture: SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - While government and the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) say e-tolling in Gauteng could be launched by March, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Transport Ian Ollis argues the process holding it up in parliament could take all year.

The controversial multibillion rand system has been given the green light to launch, but the Transport Department has agreed to wait until a bill governing the collection of fees is passed.

Parliament resumes on 14 February, after which the transport committee will need to meet.

From there the bill heads back to the National Assembly, then to the National Council of Provinces - before it goes to the president.

Ollis on Friday said with the possibility of public hearings, the process could take six months to a year.

"It is my view that it will be premature to implement the system without the legislation that we are working on; because you will then have difficulty collecting the money from those people who don't pay."

A parallel legal challenge by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance is underway, and is headed to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Gauteng motorists with e-tags will pay up to 30 cents per kilometre or a maximum of R550 a month to use the province's highways.

Revenue from the project will pay-off the 2007 debt incurred by Sanral to build the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.