Joan Madiba looks at the issue of e-tolls in South Africa.
Following unrest of the proposed e-toll, the Presidency on Wednesday has confirmed that Jacob Zuma has indeed signed this into law. While some people suspected that e-tolls would not be an issue until after next years elections so as to not impact the ruling party’s campaign, Zuma signed the e-toll into law despite warning from other member of the ANC. “The Act will provide for the electronic tolling of the country’s roads. Government and ANC sources said that, though the Bill was unpopular among the ANC’s own Gauteng membership and its alliance partner COSATU, in the long run, not signing the Bill would have been more costly.” Mac Maharaj, the spokesperson of the ANC, has also emphasized that the signed e-toll allows the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) to implement tolling in Gauteng.
Despite this there has also been a recent court battle in the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa where the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) attempted to stop tolling on Gauteng roads.. The court was told that legislation allowed SANRAL to explore options other than tolling to fund Gauteng’s freeways. It also heard that SANRAL should, therefore, have kept an open mind about the matter, despite the Cabinet’s approval of electronic tolling. OUTA eventually lost the case as the Judge rejected their appeal to a previous case to fight e-tolls. Despite this loss, OUTA vow to not give up the fight against tolling with members meeting to establish what their next step would be.
Nonetheless, as expected e-tolls is incredibly unpopular amongst many including oppositional parties and unions like COSATU. The Democratic alliance took the opportunity to further their election campaign by erecting billboards along the roads that will be tolled. These boards read “E- tolls. Proudly brought to you by the ANC” much to the disdain of the ANC.
The public has also raised their concerns of the e-tolls, questioning the necessity of tolling major roads. Their concerns link directly to how the toll fees will impact their pocket.
As e-tolls slowly emerges as a reality, we the South African public, we will have to wait and see how it unfolds.