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Sanral to give detailed presentation to e-toll panel

Sanral is expected to give reasons for implementing the multibillion rand e-toll project today.

Sanral's highway monitoring an toll collection centre in Johahannesburg. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) is expected to give reasons for implementing the multibillion rand e-toll project today when it gives a detailed presentation to the Gauteng review panel in Pretoria.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura appointed the panel in July to deal with the socio-economic factors of the system which was implemented last year, following widespread opposition.

On Wednesday, the National Treasury asked for a postponement to present its findings.

Sanral Chief Executive Officer Nazir Alli said the implementation of e-tolls came after thorough research showed other alternatives were not feasible.

"The choice I think the province has to tackle is do they invest in this infrastructure?"

Questions regarding possible price inflation costs from businesses as a knock-on effect of e-tolls will also be considered but the National Transport Department says that issue is out of their jurisdiction.

The panel has also questioned the replacement of Sanral's gantries, saying many of them are in poorer areas, which therefore impact more people.

While it's unclear when National Treasury is expected to brief the panel on its own findings, the team has until the end of the month to provide feedback to Makhura's office.

SA ECONOMY WOULD HAVE CHOKED

Sanral also said Gauteng's economy would have choked if the province's fiscal was used to fund the multibillion rand project.

Alli said this should be looked at from both sides.

"They are going to have to make an appeal to the panel. We should look at the two sides of the questions, as we can't just look at the cost of this thing, but we going to have to look at the benefits as well."

Meanwhile, Sanral says South Africa will be in serious trouble if the existing e-tolling debt is not settled.

The roads agency has defended the implementation of tolling in Gauteng, saying while government may have covered initial road upgrades, there isn't enough state money to maintain the highways.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said the tolling of Gauteng's highways was the brainchild of the provincial government in 1996 and not a national plan that was imposed on the province.

Peters dismissed criticism that government has been insensitive to the concerns of the community.

The minister said she hopes her department's engagement with the panel will address half-truths, and settle lies.

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