On 30 November 2014, Premier David Makhura received the Report of the Advisory Panel on the Socio-economic Impact of the GFIP and e-Tolls. The Premier tabled the report to the Provincial Executive Council (PEC) on 8th December 2014.
The Executive Council mandated the Premier to undertake initial briefing sessions to the national government and affected municipalities on the findings and recommendations of the Advisory Panel, prior to the release of the report to the public, early in 2015.
The Provincial Executive Council met on 15 January 2015 to receive feedback on the outcome of the briefing sessions and decide on the final process of consultations on the findings and recommendations of the Panel.
The Advisory Panel was established by Premier David Makhura in July 2014 to conduct a comprehensive socio-economic impact assessment of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and the e-Tolls. The establishment of this panel was a direct response to the public outcry on the e-tolls.
In line with its mandate, the Panel conducted thorough consultations with stakeholders, held public meetings in communities, commissioned research and convened round table discussions with experts in transport, economy and the environment.
Various organised formations and members of the public made written and oral submissions on how they are impacted by GFIP and the e-tolls. They also proposed wide ranging solutions to the problems identified.
Summary of the Primary Findings:
1. The implementation of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) has benefited the economy and the people of our province in various ways namely better quality road system; reduced travel time; improved fuel efficiency; reduced vehicle operating costs; and improved logistics efficiencies for business.
2. While there is general acceptance of the user pay principle and willingness to pay for current and future upgrades of roads and public transport infrastructure, in its current form, the e-Toll system is unaffordable and inequitable and places a disproportionate burden on low and middle income households. It is also administratively too cumbersome.
Summary of the Main Recommendations:
In this regard the main recommendation of the Panel is that elements of the current e-toll system must be reviewed to address the questions of affordability, equity, fairness, administrative simplicity and sustainability.
The Panel has made more than fifty recommendations that address the socio-economic impact of GFIP and E-tolls, including issues of public transport infrastructure, environmental sustainability and spatial integration of the Gauteng province.
Decisions of the Executive Council on the Way forward
1. The provincial government is working with national government and affected municipalities to consider all the recommendations and their full implications, including the best funding model for the GFIP. This process is being led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
2. In keeping with the commitment to consult with the people on matters that affect them the Premier will, in February, convene a consultative meeting with all the stakeholders that made submissions, to consider all the recommendations and their full implications, including the best funding model.
3. Having concluded the consultation processes, government will make an announcement on the recommendations thereafter.
The Executive Council commends the Panel for its detailed work that, in our view, will undoubtedly, contribute enormously to improving the quality of governance in Gauteng Province. The Council also thanks the people of Gauteng for their positive contribution to the work of the advisory panel.
As promised last year, the report is hereby released to the public today.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS