So the review panel convened by Gauteng premier David Makhura to investigate the current state of Gauteng’s Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and specifically how we pay for it has reported back, and their words have been published today. The key message is that etolls aren’t going anywhere – they’re here to stay but they should probably be cheaper and more people on lower incomes should be excluded from paying them.
Whether or not the report’s recommendations are enacted will be the responsibility of the deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa. We thought we’d do you a favour if you’re trying to find it online and publish the whole 223 page document here.
Before you click on the link, though, there’s a few recommendations to look out for. The report includes proposals for:
- Increasing vehicle duty based on axle weight.
- A national fuel levy.
- Excluding public transport and the poor from paying.
- Promoting car pooling with lanes for vehicles with three or more people in and putting more cops on the road to enforce these.
- Turning off gantries where no alternate route exists.
These strike me as all pretty good ideas, and the report also admits that the current scheme for topping up etolls is a bit broken, recommending “Clear communication of a single system for reloading of the tag similar to a pre-paid electricity metre (sic) or cell phone which is familiar to users”.
And the fact that much of the report is focussed on the future of public transport in the province and things like congestion and air quality is also good. There are a few bonkers ideas too.
- Taxing tyres. Sheer madness – there’s enough people driving on bald tyres already, and this is a major problem for road safety.
- Increasing the cost of advertising along etolled routes. Which seems a bit like clutching at straws.
- Issuing a tag to all car owners when renewing their licence and removing postal alternatives to etags. Frankly, the whole system is a privacy nightmare, but at least you can opt out of the online elements for now. And what happens if you don’t have access to the internet to pay anyway?
Also, there’s an interesting section on the politics around etolls.
In a democracy, the authority of government and its agencies depends in part on the extent to which the public has confidence and trust in those institutions and leaders. Today that confidence and trust seem to be in decline. The democratic surge involves a politically active citizenry, which is developing increased political consistency on policy issues, and which then is losing is confidence in public institutions and when government policies fail to correspond to what they desire.
There’s also a debate within the document as to how the etoll question can be sorted out, and it does recommend listening to the people. Which is nice.[Main image – state of South African roads by province, Source: COTO (2014) South African Road Network: Condition and Budget Needs 2014]