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Sanral breaks its silence on e-toll panel

Sanral says it wanted to clarify its position on e-tolling before the panel's establishment but was ignored.

FILE: The controversial e-tolling system went live on 3 December after months of legal wranglings, protests and calls for civil disobedience. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has broken its silence on the latest e-tolling debate, saying it wanted to clarify its position on the multi-billion rand project even before the Gauteng assessment panel was set up, but was ignored.

The panel was established by Gauteng Premier David Makhura to assess the socio-economic impact of e-tolls on the province's motorists.

So far, the Consulting Engineers South Africa is the only affected party motivating for e-tolls to be retained.

Earlier reports said the panel had invited Sanral to testify but the agency apparently turned down the invitation.

The roads agency's Vusi Mona has rubbished reports that it has taken any instructions from a political party not to make submissions to the panel.

"Sanral's board of directors sent an eight-page letter to Makhura prior to the panel's hearings."

Mona said the roads agency is still waiting for a response from the premier's office after it requested a meeting on e-tolls.

Sanral said there is a false impression created in the public that the roads agency is belligerent and is not prepared to engage any discussions on e-tolls.

He said the public impression that Sanral doesn't want to engage provincial government structures about e-tolling is false.

Sanral said it is prepared to sit down with provincial government and address the challenges surrounding e-tolls.

Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has said Sanral is refusing to take part in the Gauteng etoll assessment panel discussions because it has no respect for the views of the public and clearly has something to hide.

At the same time, 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.

The panel is expected to continue with its public hearings until the end of the month after receiving submissions from members of the public.

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

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