Cape Town: Government had learned from past mistakes and would engage more with stakeholders, in the most transparent way possible, in reaching a consensus on e-tolling, said Transport Minister Ben Martins.
Answering questions at a New Age Business briefing at the Cape Town Convention Centre on Thursday, Martins acknowledged that the government had not consulted sufficiently with all South Africans on the implementation of e-tolling.
“The consultation could’ve been better and should’ve been better… it’s one of the lessons we (the government) have learnt,” he said.
He said the inter-ministerial committee on e-tolling had met with labour, business, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and the SA Council of Churches.
Commenting on the blacking out by e-tolling operator Sanral of certain information on documents handed over to Cosatu earlier this year, Martins said it was unfortunate that the presentation of e-tolling information had not been as transparent as it could have been.
“The public has the right to information, only when it may be confidential for the purposes of protecting information that is classified,” he said.
But he said a way had to be found to fund Gauteng’s new highways and infrastructure – such as gantries – which has already been set up.
However, he did not rule out other methods of funding for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, such as using the fuel levy.
“There’s a need for all stakeholders to come to an agreement. At the end of the day we can’t just print money, a budget has to be found somewhere,” said Martins.
He believed that the issue of how the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project will be funded, will be resolved within the next three months.
Turning to traffic safety, he said South Africans had a culture of not respecting rules and regulations.
Martins said a back-to-basics strategy was needed, which required pedestrians and drivers to obey even simple rules – such as waiting to cross a road at a zebra crossing rather than jay walking.
More driver safety campaigns run year around are needed – specifically to target speed, driver fitness and driver time behind the wheel.
However, Martins believed more regulations alone wasn’t necessarily the solution, but that parents should teach their children to obey traffic rules and other regulations.
One of Martins’ key priorities is to update public transport and he is confident that within the next year the country should see “major” improvements.
His department is currently engaging the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and the National Treasury on the purchase of new rolling stock.
Over R40 billion will be invested in passenger rail and infrastructure, including signalling and rolling stock in the coming years.
On the legislative front, his department will shortly launch a Green Paper on Maritime Shipping and also develop a unified policy on scholar transport.
The department is also developing a rail policy, which is expected to be presented to Martins in October for consideration.
The department is investigating a new regulatory model, which may result in the creation of a single transport regulator.
Martins said role players in the transport sector will be given a chance to highlight their contribution to the country, in October, which has been declared Transport Month.
The minister plans to hold meetings with premiers of the respective provinces in the coming months.