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Monday Jan 27, 2014

No plans yet for e-tolls in Durban

Urban tolling would be instituted in other major cities like Durban and Cape Town only if local and provincial transport authorities were to adopt the concept of urban tolling for new road infrastructure.

That's the word from the acting deputy director-general of the national Department of Transport, Mathabatha Mokonyama, who was speaking at an SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) breakfast in Durban on Friday. He was delivering a prepared speech on behalf of Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.

'The decision to toll or not to toll any major route is not up to our department... the decision to do so lies with roads authorities in those areas. We reiterate the fact that the user-pay principle applies to road infrastructure development,' said Mokonyama.

'We have all learnt from the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project experience that public participation is key, especially with regards to new systems,' he said.

Yesterday the head of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, Wayne Duvenage, said it would be 'unfair' and insisted that it would be a 'matter of time' before urban tolling would be introduced to Durban and Cape Town.

'Do you believe that Durban's future urban freeway system could be upgraded and not subjected to etolling? Do you know what an uproar that would cause in Gauteng? You cannot discriminate between cities. Tolling in one metro will have to apply to all major cities.

'Having said that, we believe the current e-toll system is failing and will not be around much longer.

'If e-tolling was ever successful and continued to remain in place in Gauteng, it would be a matter of time before it is rolled out in Durban and Cape Town,' he said.

Questioned by The Mercury at the breakfast, eThekwini deputy mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala said urban tolling was not being considered by the city.

'We have no plans for urban e-tolling. We are not as big as Joburg and don't have the kind of traffic they do,' she said.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew Layman said he did not believe urban e-tolling would be introduced in the city in the short to medium term.

'However, one must clearly distinguish between e-tolling and the principle of tolling. Strictly, e-tolling refers to the use of electronic tags which prevent the need for motorists to stop at a tollgate.

'The term has become synonymous with the Gauteng freeway tolling scheme... So etolling has a bad name, without real reason,' he said.

'In terms of the Durban chamber's policy on tolling, if commuter routes in the city were to be tolled - for example the M4 - we would be in strong opposition to this. We opposed the tolling of the N2 south because it would increase costs for commuters and it was substantially unfair for Durban people to pay for a road through to the Eastern Cape,' he said.

'However, the introduction of e-tags to facilitate travelling through existing tollgates makes a great deal of sense. It is an international methodology and works well. After the questions about the costs of the system in Gauteng, there may be issues relating to the costs of erecting gantries etcetera, but this boils down to the choice of provider,' he said.

KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu and Cosatu have said they were 'strictly opposed' to further tolling in the province.

The Mercury

    
 

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