This post has already been read 1664 times!
A hard-hitting statement by RMI CEO Jeff Osborne about the lower but not low enough toll fees proposed by the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project Steering Committee formed part of a collective outcry from various sectors as well as consumers. The Gauteng toll plan has since been put on hold.
Osborne made the RMI’s stance clear on Monday 4 July, saying the revised tariffs did not begin to go far enough and were decided upon and presented in an unacceptable manner. He questioned government’s commitment to stakeholder engagement.
The RMI and other industry Business Unity South Africa participants were considering various options, including the possibility of asking Parliament’s Transport Portfolio Committee to have public hearings on the matter.
Then, on Tuesday 5 July, Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi announced that future phases of the ambitious project had been put on hold.
In his Departmental Budget Vote speech, presented at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Vadi said the Steering Committee Report, which recommended a 20 percent reduction in the proposed e-tag toll tariffs, was an important step – but that two further steps needed to be taken.
Firstly, he said, a decision must be taken in respect of the remaining phases of the project and whether the Department should proceed with them. Secondly, if the user-pay principle is to be reviewed: “How do we fund the next phases of the project?”
He added that in light of public concerns, the Department would initiate a proper, public consultative process in respect of any implementation of the remaining phases. “The Department will host a consultative forum within the next three months so as to receive input from the public and interested stakeholders.”
The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) is designed to upgrade approximately 560 km of provincial roads. Phase A1 of the project has upgraded 185 km of the existing road network, largely through bonds issued by the South African National Roads Agency Limited.