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'Sanral is hiding something'

Zwelenzima Vavi says Sanral has no respect for public views after it refused to take part in the e-toll panel.

FILE: Zwelenzima Vavi says Sanral has no respect for public views after it refused to take part in the e-toll panel. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)'s General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says the South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) is refusing to take part in the Gauteng etoll assessment panel discussions because the roads agency has no respect for the views of the public.

The panel says Sanral owes it to the country's democracy to tell the truth and clarify the financial status of the multibillion rand project.

National government is refusing to recognise the panel's working by saying it will never scrap the system even if it was recommended to do so.

Vavi says Sanral doesn't want to take part in this assessment process because it clearly has something to hide.

"But the people who have respect for the views of our people will go. So Sanral have no respect whatsoever for the views of the public and let them stay away but I don't think that should stop the panel to make informed decisions."

The panel has dismissed claims that it's merely undergoing a "PR exercise" following a statement by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters that the e-tolling system is non-negotiable.

The minister said national government will not change its stance on e-tolls even if the panel finds that the system should be scrapped.

This has raised concerns during a public consultation process in Soweto on Monday night with people claiming the panel set up by Gauteng Premier David Makhura is a waste of time.

Panel chairperson Muxe Nkondo said there is no reason to doubt the seriousness of their work.

"I have no doubt that it will lead to serious considerations on how to proceed."

DOES MAKHURA HAVE POWER?

But questions have been raised about whether Makhura will have the power to convince the national government to implement some of their recommendations.

The panel says it is in the process of trying to set up a meeting with the Sanral and the Department of Transport to hear their side of the e-tolls debate.

Meanwhile, anger and frustration dominated discussions held in Soweto.

The panel 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.

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

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

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

Click here for the e-toll public meetings schedule.

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