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Ramaphosa dismisses idea of e-toll referendum

The deputy president also revealed that Sanral’s debt is currently standing at around R20 billion.

FILE. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has dismissed the possibility of a referendum on Gauteng's e-tolls.

Ramaphosa defended the controversial roads levy while answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

The deputy president last month announced a series of concessions by government that reduce the cost per kilometer and the monthly cap on e-tolls, in a bid to deal with motorists' opposition to the system.

Ramaphosa also revealed that the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral)'s debt stands at around R20 billion.

He said the new Gauteng freeways benefit the economy and cut road users' travel time and fuel costs.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)'s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi asked, "If you are so confident about your panel's work why don't you do a referendum?"

Ramaphosa said sometimes governments have to take unpopular decisions for the good of all.

"The issue of a referendum has not even been an issue that has been considered. And it is out of the question, anyway."

He said a fuel levy would hit the poor as buses and taxis would raise their fares to compensate, while under the new dispensation they're exempted.

TRACKING VIA E-TOLLS

Meanwhile, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said that Sanral has not properly thought through the privacy issues surrounding the information it captures, which could be used to track the movements of citizens.

On Wednesday, journalism Professor Jane Duncan said the information caught by the gantries could be given to other state officials and used to create a picture of a person's movements.

She also said this could violate a citizen's right to locational privacy.

Outa's Wayne Duvenage said, "The e-toll bills that are printed and available electronically, are shared, are posted and can get into other peoples' hands. It's going to violate peoples' privacy of information."