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Anger & frustration dominate e-toll hearings

Soweto residents want the e-toll project to be scrapped all together.

FILE. Soweto residents at the e-toll assessment hearing said the project is destroying their business and families. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Anger and frustration have dominated discussions held by the Gauteng e-tolls assessment panel in Soweto.

The panel has heard submissions made by business, labour and civil organisations and now wants the public to submit their testimonies how the multibillion rand project is affecting their lives.

The panel has been established to assess the socio-economic impact the Gauteng tolling system has had on motorists.

Residents attending the public discussions at the Orlando Community Hall have told the panel how the multibillion rand system is on the brink of destroying their business and families.

"We are not going to pay for nothing, not anymore, not in our country, we are not paying a cent more."

From widows to pensioners and entrepreneurs, many have requested that the panel consider scrapping the e-tolling system altogether or significantly lower the costs.

One man says if he were to pay his e-toll bills, it would take away 85 percent of his profit a month.

"You can't have a country charging you different amounts."

Soweto residents have also questioned the review panel public consultation process, claiming that it's just 'another public relations exercise'.

One resident didn't pull any punches when he made his submissions to the assessment panel.

"We are not fools. We know this is another PR exercise. You want us to brush egos."

He was not the only one questioning the process after Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said the user pay system was non-negotiable.

Chairperson Muxe Nkondo had to intervene.

"We are here to make sure that we consolidate consensus on how the e-tolls should be addressed."

No one attending the public consultation process in Soweto argued in favour of the e-tolling system.

SANRAL & GOVT CHALLENGED

Soweto residents have challenged the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and government officials to use public transport systems for a period of time, to experience first-hand the financial burden paying for e-tolls has had on citizens.

Phathizwe Mkhunya, who part in Monday night's public discussion, says it's clear the e-tolling system is failing.

"The principals that signed for this e-toll system must stop their luxury cars and use public transport themselves, for a year."