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Sanral economist slammed for 'ludicrous statement'

Roelof Botha said those who don't pay for e-tolls shouldn't participate in the debate.

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 Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) say an economist, who made submissions to the e-tolls assessment panel on behalf of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), has made a "ludicrous statement" by saying those who don't pay for e-tolls shouldn't participate in the debate.

The panel was established by Gauteng Premier David Makhura to assess the economic and social impact of e-tolls on motorists in the province.

Today, Sanral had its last opportunity to convince the e-tolls assessment panel that the system is the only solution despite widespread public outcry.

Transport economist Roelof Botha made the statement while trying to convince the panel that the model is the only way to pay back the money for the roads.

Sanral made its final submissions to the panel in Pretoria this afternoon.

Botha carefully explained the model to the panel.

"If you're in the bottom income quintile and are using public transport then you shouldn't be participating in this debate because it doesn't affect you. You should shut up."

But Outa's Wayne Duvenage says this argument is absurd.

"People who aren't participating have every right to give input on policies in this country. The roads are almost as congested as they were in 2007 before the construction began."

The panel now has to analyze all the information it has received and submit its final report to Makhura by the end of the month.

Sanral chief executive Nazir Alli said earlier this month that the roads agency is able to continue repaying the R20 billion debt for e-tolls in Gauteng.

He also said reports that the roads agency is broke are a complete misrepresentation.

Sanral stressed the importance of paying for e-tolls not only to pay back the debt for the new roads in Gauteng but also to maintain the existing infrastructure.

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