E-toll review: Fuel levy must pay for e-tolls

Satawu says e-tolls is harming the poor, increasing food prices & will result in job losses.

An e-toll gantry on the N1 in Johannesburg. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has told the Gauteng e-tolls review panel that the multibillion rand project is harming the poor, increasing food prices and will ultimately result in job losses.

The union is the sixth interested party to have made submissions to the panel of experts analysing the effect of e-tolls on the economy and Gauteng motorists.

Satawu has quoted the unemployment figures and the general household income data to support its argument that e-tolls have an enormous financial impact on workers.

The union's Chris Nkosi says workers want their employer to absorb the impact and pay their e-toll bills with higher wages.

But Nkosi says upgrades for the roads have to be paid back one way or the other and a minimal fuel levy will be the best way out.

"Whether we like it or not, the anger that we are putting to the community of Gauteng, we are unable to sustain it in the future."

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the Black Business Council and Satawu are among five affected parties supporting a fuel levy to pay for e-tolls.

Meanwhile, the Black Business Council has also proposed that only those who can afford e-tolls must pay, as the high costs are unbearable.

Taxis have been subsidised by government but the council now recommends alternatives must be explored to share the burden.

The council has lashed out at the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and government for not properly consulting motorists before the system went online in December last year.

But it has also acknowledged that the roads are safer, faster and e-tolls have increased work productivity, with less time being spent in traffic.

The council's Babalwa Ngonyama has proposed a fuel levy and a review of the cost as alternative methods.

"The subsidies can actually come, not just from government but also from citizens of Gauteng. We may need to exclude other citizens who cannot afford e-tolling altogether."

Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) is the only concerned party opposed to a fuel levy, stating that e-tolls are the best way to pay for the roads.

Business Unity South Africa is expected to makes its submissions to the panel this morning.