E-toll panel to hear public testimony

The overwhelming majority of submissions received have recommended that the system be stopped.

FILE: Gauteng advisory e-toll panel chairman Muxe Nkondo speaks at hearings in Midrand, Wednesday 27 August, 2014. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng e-toll review panel will start gathering testimony from the public today to assess the socio-economic impact of the multi-billion rand system on motorists.

The panel was announced by Gauteng Premier David Makhura after huge opposition to the project in the province.

The review panel has listened to interested parties including civil society organisations, the business sector and unions.

The overwhelming majority of submissions received by the panel have recommended that the system be stopped.So far, only Consulting Engineers South Africa is in full support of the project.

The panel's chairperson Muxe Nkondo says, "We need evidence so people must come with testimonies. If anyone feels they want to share their experiences, they are welcome."

Earlier today, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) warned Transport Minister Dipuo Peters not to isolate Makhura over his decision to establish the panel.

The minister has questioned the panel's legitimacy.

Peters said she is not changing national government policy because of a provincial review panel.

She also said Makhura only told her about the panel after he announced it to the public.

The review process is not being attended by the Department of Transport or the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).

The African National Congress has also raised concerns.

But Cosatu's Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile said Makhura was given the go-ahead to set up the review panel by Tripartite Alliance partners.

At the same time, the ANC Youth League has thrown its weight behind Cosatu's bid to have the e-tolling system scrapped and says Sanral should stop billing motorists until a review panel submits its report to Makhura.

The ANCYL has vowed to join Cosatu in a mass protest involving burning e-tags and bills in front of Sanral's offices next month.

The controversial e-tolling system went live on 3 December after months of legal wranglings, protests and calls for civil disobedience.