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'E-tolling not sustainable in current form'

The e-tolls assessment panel has recommended the e-tolling system be reviewed.

FILE: Gauteng Premier David Makhura. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Premier David Makhura says the e-tolling system in its current form is not sustainable as not everyone is contributing equally to pay back the debt for the upgraded freeways.

Makhura today released a report by the e-tolls assessment panel he established last year to assess the socio-economic impact of e-tolls on Gauteng motorists.

The e-tolls assessment panel has recommended that the e-tolling system be reviewed and recommended a number of methods to do so.

A meeting between political parties, labour and business will be held next month to discuss the most affordable way for motorists to pay for the upgraded highways.

Among the e-tolls assessment panel's more than 50 recommendations, is a reduced cap on the e-toll fees, a flat rate for all gantries and the removal of administrative penalties.

"Apart from a flat rate that is more affordable for road users, other additional sources of revenue should be looked at like contributions should be adopted."

The report also suggests that a hybrid funding option should be adopted, meaning e-tolling would be combined with other funding sources to pay off the highways.

Makhura said the e-toll assessment panel's report suggests that township-based enterprises are being forced to travel on tolled highways to do business in cities.

He said people who can only afford to live on the outskirts of the province are hit the hardest by e-tolling fees.

Makhura said the report will now be extensively discussed with national government in order to come up with a definite solution on how to pay back the South African National Road Agency Limited's debt and fund future road infrastructure.

At the same time, the African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng says it's pleased with the recommendations of the e-tolls assessment panel, saying it has "listened to the cries of the people".as low and middle income households are being hardest hit by e-tolling.

Last year, the ANC in Gauteng adopted a resolution not to support the multi-billion rand system.

ANC chairperson in the province, Paul Mashatile, "As the ANC, we are very happy. The system is expensive and people can't afford it.

Once the premier has concluded his meetings with national government, which are already underway, an announcement on the recommendations will be made.

The controversial e-tolling system went live on 3 December, 2013, despite public outcry.