Gauteng premier: E-tolls are here to stay

But David Makhura admits the system is currently unfair.

FILE: The e-toll system went live in December 2013. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Premier David Makhura says the controversial e-tolling system is here to stay and all that's left to decide now are how the tolls will be paid, what the tariff rates should be, and who will be exempted.

Today Makhura convened the final consultation meeting on the e-toll assessment with political parties and civil society groups, describing it as their last chance to make a submission.

The panel has made more than 60 recommendations and the parties attending today's session have been tasked with narrowing them down.

The premier says he agrees with the user pays principal for Gauteng's roads, but admits the system is currently unfair.

"It's unsustainable. That's why we're looking at the detail of the new [payment] dispensation. I'm also absolutely certain that you and I must pay."

"Some of you argued for this option or that option, but the panel's determination may have been different. Today is the last round of consultation, one more chance. You might be able to persuade us in the working groups if you could not persuade the panel."

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) meanwhile maintain their view that e-toll gantries should be physically removed, insisting the debt incurred by the state to upgrade roads should be paid with tax money.

The EFF today attended the final consultation meeting between political parties' civil society and the office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who commissioned an assessment panel to investigate the viability of the system.

EFF Gauteng spokesman Ntobeng Ntobeng said, "The government has made the commitment. They've spent money on Nkandla and they've spent money on corrupt activities. It should come from the taxes. It's the only logical thing to do."

The head of the panel, Professor Muxe Nkodo, says the final decision must be based on whether the public will accept e-tolling and if the system will ensure economic stability.

"How the people feel, how they experience policy; that is the crux of value. Consequences on the actual lives of people are the crux of impact."

The different parties are holding closed working group sessions throughout the day, and will then brief Makhura on their outcomes.