Mmusi Maimane Parliamentary Leader for the Democratic Alliance, Manny de Freitas DA Shadow Minister of Transport
Within the coming days I will be moving for the Transport Portfolio Committee to push for a full review of the E-toll scheme. Furthermore, the outcome of the Committee’s work must be debated in the National Assembly. This review will include the effects and the impacts of E-tolls since inception in December 2013.
In his State of the Province Address, Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced that Gauteng would establish a panel to review the E-tolls system.
This is a fight that the DA has long championed, and the DA welcomes the Gauteng Premier’s acknowledgement that E-tolls deserve a review.
But while we welcome the new Premier’s late arrival to the issue of E-tolls, we contend that because E-tolls were introduced by enabling Legislation passed by the National Assembly, it is the responsibility of Parliament to monitor the impact of its implementation and whether its stated aims and objectives have been met.
If the ANC-led government is indeed serious about responding to the public outcry against E-tolls, then our motion to have Parliament review the E-tolls system should be welcomed by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters.
The E-tolls system is an economic burden that is putting further pressure on the strained finances of South Africans. South Africans cannot afford the extra tax and they do not want a system that was imposed upon them without any meaningful consultation.
My expectations are that the Parliamentary Committee must do the following:
1. Conduct a Socio-Economic impact assessment on E-tolls, based on past 6 months of operation.
2. Based on that assessment to project the viability of the system, for the immediate and long-term future.
3. Fully canvass the views of South Africans, in particular, the people of Gauteng and all other interested parties and bodies.
Anything less than a recommendation of scrapping the system will not be a victory for the people of Gauteng, and the people of South Africa in places where further E-tolls could soon be imposed.
I will also be drafting, with the Shadow Minister of Transport, Manny De Freitas MP, a Private Members Bill to Parliament that will make the process of imposing any E-tolls in future both consultative and democratic.
Our Private Members Bill will amend the Transport and Related Matters Amendment Act, which allowed E-tolls, in the following ways:
1. It will limit the Minister’s and SANRAL’s power to declare a National toll-road, by making the decision subject to the outcome of extensive public consultation, including television and radio aertisements on all major channels and stations at prime-time simple objection documents and forms easily accessible to the public newspaper aertisements and signage on the actual road which aertises the proposed tolling
2. It will impose reasonable thresholds of objections received at which the Minister must request the President to declare a referendum wherein the people of South Africa will have the vote on declaration of the toll-road
3. It will impose upon the Minister and SANRAL the obligation to take into account the comments of the Premier of the Province in which the road is located, and to make the decision to declare a toll-road only in consultation with the Premier and after consultation with the relevant Mayors through whose municipal boundaries the road may pass
4. It will impose upon the Minister and SANRAL the obligation to identify and designate an alternative route to every road sought to be declared a toll-road, of reasonably comparable distance.
Further, given that the fuel levy scheme is directly related to the implementation of E-tolls, included in our Private Members Bill, we move for:
5. An amendment to the National Roads Act of 1971, to include the provision that all monies raised from the fuel levy must be ring-fenced for the purpose of road construction and maintenance only.
Currently the National Roads Act of 1971, allows the government to collect a fuel levy from every litre of fuel sold, and to add that to the national fiscus and spend it on any budget item. Over R240-billion has been collected through this levy since 1998.
Our position is that the fuel levy ought to be directed solely to road construction and maintenance, which will further negate the need for E-tolls.
The fight against E-tolls is one which the DA will continue to lead in Parliament.
Source : Democratic Alliance