Etolls review panel named to assess socio-economic impact

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The controversial etoll system on Gauteng’s highways is probably the most berated aspect of travelling though the province but if you live or work here, you have absolutely no choice but to pass under a gantry at one stage or another.

When President Jacob Zuma announced his parliament and provincial legislature reshuffle earlier this year, he placed David Makhura in charge of Gauteng. His first point of order? To set up a review panel that will assess the viability, alternatives and the socio-economic impact the etoll system has on Gauteng.

Premier Makhura has now made good on his promise and today announced the members who will make up the review panel. He announced 10 names at first, with another five members to be confirmed at a later stage. The panel will compile monthly reports, which will then be submitted to the Gauteng legislature.

A final report by will be presented by end of November, while the first meeting by the panel members will take place on the 17th of July. The review panel will also be supported by a technical team and will make recommendations based on its investigations.

The members of the review panel will consist of:

  • Professor Mushe Nkondo will chair the panel,
  • Dr Anna Mokgokong,
  • Dr Vuyo Mahlati
  • Dr Luci Abrahams,
  • Professor Fiona Tregenna,
  • Dr John Sampson,
  • Ms Lauretta Teffo
  • Prof Chris Malikane,
  • Dr Patricia Hanekom and
  • Adv John Ngcebetsha

According to Eyewitness News,”Makhura says his decision to set up the panel has nothing to do with the upcoming local government elections,” while he also wants an evidence-based debate, and not ideological one. The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA), who has been very vocal over etolls, was not asked to be part of the panel, and would have to make submissions to the panel.

The etolls system has come under fire even before its implementation last year, with individuals, political parties and average citizens staging protests and objections against its introduction.

Prior to the announcement of the review panel Makhura said that while there is probably no easy way out, his department is willing to look out for the citizens of Gauteng.

“While we shall not promise easy solutions and claim easy victories, we must make it clear we cannot close our eyes to the cries of the sectors of our population who are affected by the cost of travelling across the province. We must all move from the premise that we need good roads in our province to support economy. How we finance such infrastructure must be deliberated upon and agreed,” Makhura said last month.

His announcement of the review panel didn’t sit particularly well with roads agency Sanral – they blamed Makhura’s remarks for missing their bond auction target earlier this month.  “Earlier today, investor confidence was evidently impacted by the pronouncements of the Gauteng premier, David Makhura, ahead of the South African National Road Agency’s July bond auction,” they said in a statement.

Sanral was aiming for R500 million in extra bonds, yet it only managed to secure R275-million.

But not everyone is thrilled about the announcement.

[Source – Gauteng Online, Image – CC by -ND 2.0/Axel Bührmann]



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